Walking through the door, I looked around for the gathering of people. I was a few minutes late and noticed some noise toward the back of the room. Weaving my way through bookshelves, I found what I was looking for at the back of the bookstore. I stood behind the rows of people listening as the author continued reading from his newly released book.
I trickled in as he was sharing the history of camping, why did people start camping in the first place? In the early 1900s camping was seen as a pretty silly endeavor. Previously, people had only made shelters and spent the night outdoors as a survival tactic. How has it shifted to become more of a privilege with #vanlife being the coveted end result?
This got me thinking, why do I go outside. For me, it's the quiet. It's the pause from everyday life or, rather, resuming who I truly am. My lungs breath deeper, my smile starts to hurt my cheeks and my feet move quicker.
A few weeks back I took time to explore my neighborhood. Granted I life a block off Golden Gate Park in San Francisco but it got me thinking. I was having a blast and discovering new parts of the park I had not been to before.
I took a few photos and my thumb instinctually gravitated to Instagram. I paused. In the moment I thought to myself, is this worth sharing? Normally, I share slightly more adventurous activities with more dramatic backdrops.
And then, I cringed.
I had been swept up. Social media is incredible. I wouldn't have had a job for the last five years without it. I'm able to see parts of the world I'll likely never make it to and I also get to mountaintops and ocean depths I'm not in shape enough to reach. I'm so grateful people share these adventures.
I also want to recognize the effect these photos and stories have on my perspective of what spending time in the outdoors means. It should be for my personal happiness and fulfillment, not for a photo or for prestige.
There are these personal benefits of seeing your own adventures as equally valid as people who have the opportunity to dedicate their life to the outdoors. I also think there are environmental benefits to valuing your local neighborhood park in a similar way you might view Yosemite, Rocky Mountain National Park or Yellowstone.
In calling myself out, I hope to create space for anyone else who has experienced this and may occasionally doubt their own experiences in comparison to the (very talented, humble, necessary) professionals in your feed.