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Apply Your Outdoor Adventure to Everyday Life

Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that's where I renew my springs that never dry up.

Pearl Buck

A few seasons ago I was guiding a backpacking trip in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana. High on a plateau, our July trip had taken us through snowfields, hail storms, and mosquito swarms. It had been beautiful and challenging. Most of the group looked forward to solo - a day everyone spent alone - simply for the chance to sleep in and relax. One group member in particular had been talking about and looking forward to this since the trip began. He'd never been alone, and he couldn't wait to experience "peace and quiet".

Two hours after everyone settled into their solo site, my co-leader and I sat in our Crazy Creek chairs, taking in some sunshine and tea. The guy who'd been looking forward to this for weeks appeared at our base camp, saying he couldn't take the silence. After helping him re-settle into his site, I walked back to camp, knowing he was fighting an unexpected battle.

For some, the solo experience is fantastic and refreshing. For others, it's the toughest challenge on the trip. Most people find it a mix; exhilarating, boring, lonely, and refreshing all at once. Regardless of whether people enjoy or struggle through the experience, this trip component always ends in the same way for me: group members return to camp with a sort of peaceful glow about them. It's true; 10 years of guiding has proven this to be a reliable ending of solo.

Like many aspects of an outdoor adventure, it can be hard to put your finger on just why a few hours alone can be so powerful. Is it the close contact with nature? The echoing of your own thoughts? Your socks finally drying out or your blisters healing? Whatever the source of its effectiveness, wouldn't it be nice to experience some of that in your daily life at home?

Most of us lead busy lives. From the morning newspaper to the music from our stereo, we are constantly given the option of distraction. Eliminating those distractions for a few moments in your daily life just might open up some room for your inner thoughts, instincts, and feelings. It takes discipline, but, like solo, the result is probably always worth the effort.

Find a place in your daily schedule where you could spend 15 minutes alone. Your backyard is better than the living room, and time in the car doesn't count. It will work better if it's a time when you are required to think about nothing else -- not the red light, the dinner cooking, or the dog in need of walking.

Sit with yourself and your own quiet. Take in the breeze blowing through the treetops, or the moonlight shining beyond the street lamp. Keep photos from your trip with you. Remember your experience, and connect with the person you were then. No need for a specific outcome or tangible results, just these moments alone are worth the experience. If you're bored, hang with it. If you're stressed, resist the idea of getting up and doing something else.

After 10 days of doing this, the experience from your outdoor adventure will seem a lot closer than the mountains, ocean, or desert where you camped. You may even find yourself extending your homebound solo, and enjoying the rewards of simply being alone, and quiet, within yourself. It is here that you give yourself room to grow, imagine, and absorb, connecting with who and what you are. Given still and quiet, your insides might have something to say.

Contributed By: Amanda Kubie

Amanda Kubie runs a professional coaching business for people who have completed outdoor adventures. She has instructed and course directed Outward Bound trips for 10 years.

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