“As a man thinks, so is he,” – right?
What if all you can think about is small, crowded, congested, humanly constructed and frail? What does that make you? I think you and I have a duty to ensure our minds confront masterful things regularly, and I think one of the best places to find mastery and grandeur is outdoors.
Last week Monday night, for the second time, I had one the most humbling experiences of my life as I hiked to the peak of Jamaica’s Blue Mountain. The Blue Mountain peak, at 2256 meters, or 7402 feet, is the highest point in Jamaica. On a clear day you can see both the Northern and Southern coasts; in fact you can actually see Cuba from the peak.
In short, two friends – who were both on vacation from Europe, and I made the trip. We bought a bucket of KFC chicken – 5 pieces per man, chocolate bars, 3 Jamaican Spice Buns and 3 big (1.5 litre) bottles of WATA. We double checked our map, and drove off into the night. It was 12:00 AM, we drove up the Mountain until 2:00 AM and then pressed as fast as we could to the top to catch sunrise. We made it just in time to see the sun coming up. I am not yet skilled enough a wordsmith to describe the scene.
Talk about a paradigm shifting experience. If you need something that is utterly outside, above and beyond yourself, I recommend the outdoors. Reflecting on my recent experience I can recommend the outdoors to you, whenever you need to get away from the congested ‘reality’. Here are four benefits you may enjoy:
You will see beauty, grandeur and mastery that will every impact mental model
You cannot stand above a cloud and be the same. You cannot see a mountain casting a shadow on everything for miles and not pause. You will recognize quickly that everything you consider big is infinitesimal. Nature is big! A cloud moving right across the sky, engulfing you and passing all around you while you feel its distinct chill – that is big.
The unaccommodating dominance of nature will humble you
If you do something as physically taxing as climbing the Blue Mountains, nature will humble you. You cannot walk until you are utterly exhausted, hope against hope that your destination is just ahead and fight against the fiend, frustration, as it attempts to push you off the side of the mountain – you cannot do all that and be the same.
Going outdoors gives you an opportunity to reconnect and strengthen old friendships
I had not seen my friend *Dave for years, not since he had migrated to the UK for college. Climbing the mountain gave us an invaluable chance to bond in a bona fide way, like when we were all younger.
It’s an opportunity to build new, perhaps lasting friendship,
I now have a friend from Belgium who has offered to show me all around his country when I arrive there. In fact, while discussing with him my interest in marathon running, he told me about the Night of Flanders which is held in a town very close by to his home. We agreed that I would run the 100 KM race there with his name on my flag, and he would buy me one of the best beers in the world.
*(I changed my friends’ names)