How often are we every truly alone? In today’s age, there is always some entertainment that is going on to suck away our time. Always having to check our phones for the newest tweet or Instagram post takes up a huge part of everyone’s day. I finally noticed this in my life and started limiting my “checking” and even leaving my phone off during the day. Always having to be entertained by other people’s accomplishments or random selfies really does nothing for you. When I walk through the Texas A&M campus, almost everyone I see is either on their phone or listening to music. Nothing wrong with that of course, but it limits us to experiencing new things.
If I told someone that I’m not thinking about the mountains, I would be lying. Being out in the woods brings a sense of peace. Everything that is going on in the world all of a sudden doesn’t matter. The only thing that means anything is my next step. There is not an hour that goes by that I don’t think of some spot I haven’t explored yet or a place I have been to many a time. People always ask “how can you just go off into the unknown?” “what if a bear or cougar attacked you.” Well, I never think about those kinds of things. My best explanation is that I just love the simplicity of it all. There are three steps to climbing a mountain: 1. See the mountain 2. Climb the mountain 3. Find another mountain and repeat. I mean, that’s not very complicated at all. I think where I lose people is that doing this by yourself can be a daunting task in itself. I love being by myself with my thoughts. I find that this is the only way I can find a sense of accomplishment in doing a hard task.
Going off into the woods is a huge mental burden. Those first hundred yards from the truck seem to take forever and slowly doubt begins to sink in. No one can influence your next step. There is no bouncing around ideas on which route to take. There is no one to talk to. For a lot of people, this is too much. You really have to drill it into your head that you will conquer your mind and beat the mental games. The reason I love being up in the middle of nowhere all alone is because I have it all to myself. Rather watching a herd of elk move through or watching the sun slowly hide behind a peak, I have that picture saved in my memory, and nobody else can take it. Prayer and conversations with God are another thing that solitude brings. What else are you gonna do all by yourself? I always have a little bible with me and will have devotionals throughout the day. I relate my little expeditions in a way to Jesus’ 40 days in the desert. He was all alone with only his thoughts and the devil. Talk about some self- motivation to not give in to a delicious meal for 40 straight days. I have come to love and appreciate these talks I have with Him about my struggles on the mountain and back in the real world.
Being a part of a team is a very important thing. A team teaches many lessons and is there to support and challenge you. Let’s take lifting weights for example. I am going to lift more weight if there is a crowd around because of the competition presented at the time. This comes in thanks to adrenaline rush I get when trying to beat out someone else. As there are many great things about this, accomplishing something by yourself is just a different animal. Finding the inner strength to push past failure is hard. Doing it by yourself is even harder. Being mentally tough enough to push yourself through difficult obstacles with only your thoughts encouraging you is a very formidable task.
I like taking pictures. I have come to find that people like my pictures. I think that somehow I bring a feeling of beauty to a location that is rugged, unforgiving, steep, cold, intimidating, etc. (you get the point). Most of my pictures were spur of the moment where I just decided to grab a quick shot before heading off. I am always trying to find places for a good picture, but I never realize till after I am back and looking at my camera roll which ones actually turned out well. This in a way is a little self-motivation for me. In order for me to find new places, I have to push myself to get there.
When you are by yourself anywhere, your mind wanders. When you are hiking let’s say up a super steep mountain at 3 am in the morning, you really wonder if you are a crazy lunatic. Like seriously, what in the world can push you to keep on suffering when the only thoughts you have are of pain and pain? There is a somewhat odd feeling in bringing this type of pain to yourself. Every hike I have every been on was challenging is some way. At some point, I hated what I was doing, and on many hikes, I hated every second of it. So what really makes one push on to conquer this overwhelming thought process? To be honest, I don’t know. I think you have to be a little bit crazy, dumb and have a true passion for being out in the woods. When you reach that point where everything in you wants to turn around and go home, what do you do? If you were with a team of people, they would encourage and help you along, but there is no team around you. You alone control every part of your actions.
One thing that the social media industry has done in aspiring people to do great things is putting amazing people on a platform to inspire others. This leads to people wanting to be just like (insert famous person name), but what do you really if you want to be just like someone. That’s like ending a one on one basketball game in a tie. Wanting to have a body just like someone or wanting to kill animals like this guy on Instagram sets limits to your goals. You see them as a final destination of your progress towards becoming the ultimate whatever. Now, what if we took the same people and decided that we wanted to be better than them. Sounds easy, but how can you change your mindset to do this? Personally, I always try to do just one more rep at the gym then the guy across from me. If we are playing basketball, I am going to win or come pretty dang close to it. Settling for mediocracy and fitting in with the status quo is boring. I see all of the famous hunters and all of their accomplishments. I think to myself that I don’t want to be known as similar to so and so or to be compared to almost being as good as some other guy. I want to be better.
This is where I believe that doing stuff by yourself can be a way to accomplishing any goal you put in front of yourself. If you have the mentality of being a winner, and the toughness that no matter what gets thrown at you I will defeat it, you will have a head start in accomplishing great things. When I am doing homework, I always compare it to “Well, this isn’t as hard as hiking up (insert random hiking location), if I could hike that, I for sure can do this stupid paper.”
With taking pictures and writing, I have always wanted people to see the awesome places and animals I get to chase. I have made it a goal to present myself as an admirable hunter who can be approached by both hunters and non-hunters alike. I want people to see the drive and passion I have for exploring new places. I want to kids to look up to me and see my attitude and work ethic. In doing all of the hiking and hunting that I do, self-motivation is more of push in that I want to be a role model for how these activities should be done.
So actually, when you go solo, you are not alone at all. The people who look up to your and respect you will always be there. The relationships you have made to make people better help you in that it gives you a certain drive to want to accomplish more so that you can learn more. The more you learn, the more you can teach. (in reference to Jesus’ 40 days) “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” Hebrews 2:18. If you decide not to go to the top and just turn around and quit, how can you talk about being mentally tough and beating self-doubt? This is what truly motivates me. I want to see lots of cool places and experience many amazing things. But if I just keep it all to myself, I have accomplished nothing. In order to be a good leader and role model, you have to be first and foremost a servant. Serve others as you would want to be served. Answer questions. Give advice. Put yourself in someone’s shoes, and think about how just a little word of advice and praise will affect their overall attitude and set the path for their future.