I want to share with you part of a conversation Jordan, Dad, and I had. It was a conversation about luxuries, necessities, happiness, and about what matters.
We were on the drive back from a hiking trip in Algonquin Park a few years ago. With four day’s worth of scruff on our chins and a hunger for the nearest Tim Hortons on our lips, we threw our packs in the car, cranked the AC, and pulled out of the trail-head parking lot to go back home. It had been an awfully humid August long-weekend. We were a bit wet from a downpour that happened in the last leg of the hike and a lot smelly from a concoction of sweat and bug juice that had been brewing on our bodies for days.
Yet we were happy.
I remember Jordan, in that tone he gets when he has something serious to say and not just sarcastic, saying something like this…
The wilderness makes most people realize how fortunate they are to have all of their stuff. For me, being out camping makes me realize I’m happier to live without most of that junk.
If it’s what you love, you don’t need much else to be happy when out camping or hiking in the wilderness. You only really need a few things:
- Something to eat, GORP is just fine
- A good knife
- And a hot coffee in the morning
The rest are luxuries; things you can live without. They are nice-to-haves when you’re at home, but when you’re hiking and carrying everything on your back they’re only extra weight.
You see, adventure satisfies part of the soul that a lot of people fill with stuff. You’re at peace when you’re on the lake. You stop thinking about everything else and forget about material things. Adventure creates a connection between people who also connect with the outdoors. Adventure connects Jordan and me. Adventure also changes you; it changes what matters and what you need to be happy.
I wonder when it was—maybe on the way back from Frontenac Park, relaxing at the cottage after a paddle down the Madawaska, or on the drive back from Florida—that Jordan realized Val was something that he couldn’t live without. She is something he needs to be happy and to survive. That Val isn’t just a luxury, or a nice-to-have, but she is as important as shelter and fire for him to survive on his adventure.
And now it’s their adventure.
The fun part of adventure is that you don’t really know what’s going to happen. You usually know where you’re starting and hopefully have an idea where you’re going. But it’s exploring the trail along the way that makes it exciting. It’s the culmination of the sunburns and sunsets, the clear star-lit skies and the mosquito bites, tipping the canoe and evenings around the campfire. What makes things interesting is that sometimes the trail is good and sometimes the trail is treacherous. Hiking in the rain is still an adventure.
In the next several years, the list of what Jordan and Val find luxurious are going to change but what matters to them won’t. What matters to them is that they’re traveling together.
Jordan and Val: I wish for you two to find happiness that luxuries can’t purchase, satisfaction that the trail is fun part, and that together, you will have an adventure of a lifetime.