Life. It’s stressful and exhausting, and it demands away time, in nature.
Plus its proven, scientifically, it helps our minds and bodies!
Finding time to cook, clean, run errands and your work (shout out to the side hustlers working full time and building a business). Add to that finding time for yourself each week? Ya…that is sooooo not going to happen.
Even if you could find the time, the price of gear is hella expensive. Tack on fuel, entry fees, campsite fees, food, and all of the prep time? It’s simply not something that most people can afford.
I hear ya. It is tough!
But those things?
Those aren’t the real reasons you’re still inside. I can hear you saying, “No but those totally are the reason for me!” And I am sure they are in your head, but in reality, they are just obstacles. They’re valid obstacles – very valid for a lot of people – but here is the thing: the real reason you haven’t explored lately is fear.
Click to tweet: The real reason you’re still watching Netflix on your couch instead of exploring your nearest park is fear.
The fear I’m talking about is our fight, flight or freeze response to the unknown.
It’s totally valid, like I said, and it can save us from danger when it’s activated at the right times, but the root of the fear you’re feeling right now is one that you can address. It stems from a lack of knowledge, and that is one of the most changeable things about us. We can always learn.
The outdoors, and greater knowledge about it, should be accessible to everybody. But many people simply can’t access it. (If you aren’t familiar with the amazing impacts of net neutrality and specifically what the FCC is currently trying to do, do it now!) Gaining accessibility to information on the internet from across the world that isn’t politically driven or biased is one way to increase your knowledge about the outdoors. (For instance what the Secretary of Interior is trying to do with our public lands, open them up to drilling and fracking. If they block the information we get about the outdoors and their importance, then they can strip them and destroy them, without us even knowing.)
But access to that information isn’t equally as available to everyone.
There is a disparity between different groups of people’s access to information about the outdoors: between people of color and white people; between people with wealth and those without; between people with disabilities and those not living with a disability, and between people who identify as LGBTQ2 and heteronormative and cisgender people.
Research and knowledge by different people give access and perceived access TO different people. For instance – a friend of mine has a daughter who is hard of hearing. She’s been her mom for 17 years and is pretty experienced in the things you have to pay attention to, to keep a person safe in the outdoors who is hard of hearing…
As you can see, there’s a disparity between these groups of people – both in accessing information about the outdoor spaces near them, and in accessing information that is applicable to their own experiences.
And that’s a problem.
It’s a problem, because it makes access to public spaces for those who don’t have access to the information about it even more difficult, because they don’t know how to get there or even feel welcome or safe, when they do.
It makes using those spaces less safe and welcoming for many people because their voices and the voices of their overall community aren’t heard there. They may not know how accessible spaces are to them, or how safe their experiences there may be.
So let’s all get out of freeze mode first, so we can enjoy the great outdoors, by identifying our own accessibility barrier and look for experts from our community to give us the information we need most (They are out there!).
And then? After we’ve got ourselves ready to hit the trails, we can seek to help others to do the same.
So what do you need to know in order to get your butt outside?
a) What do you do or where do you go, if you get hurt?
b) Do you know how to read a map (do you have one)?
c) Can you drink the water?
d) Plant safety for the area
e) Animals! Are there bears? Or snakes? Or skunks? And how do they like their visitors to behave?
a) Do you know how to get where you want to go?
b) Where is the trailhead?
c) Do you know where to park so that you don’t hurt things or yourself?
d) How do you get home? Are there gates that get locked at a certain time?
e) Is the trail elevation appropriate for you? Will you need hiking poles for stabilization?
f) Is it the right type of trail for you and everyone with you?
a) Gear – You do not need the most expensive, but you do need to know the most appropriate.
b) What food will you need?
c) Do you know your healthy limits (of mileage you should take on in a day)?
4) FUN! It’s important too, ya know!
a) What is your type of exploring?
b) What new things could you look for nearby?
c) Do you know how to interact and have fun in the ecosystem you are visiting?
i. Bring a plant or wildlife identification book!
ii. Do you have a sketchbook or camera?
iii. Leave no trace!
So really. What is stopping you from getting outside?
Hint: you have some learning to do.
It may take some trial and error, but the point isn’t to do a 10-20 mile backpacking trip right away. It is just to get outside, move your body, and be amongst the trees.
Yeah. It’s hard to let go of our comfy excuses and jump into the scary thing.
But committing to do the thing helps…especially if you do it in a somewhat public way (because public shame is a motivator…let’s be honest).
Join me in this challenge and get your ass outside. We’ll learn and plan all the things in a super simple and accessible way – and we’ll actually do the thing, because that’s the point.
*BOOM! Pine cone drop*
….because I don’t want to take it with me….because I want to leave it for the birds.
See you next time,