I spent another night out in the woods this weekend. As a hobby, I absolutely love backpacking – the time spent outdoors is incredibly relaxing to me in a way that feels very earned. It’s difficult for me to relax when I don’t feel like I “deserve” it, and in the hustle of modern life it can be difficult to feel that way. The physical exertion of camping is different – I hike for hours and miles, then exert a bunch of energy clearing and setting up a campsite, and by the time I sit down to just bask in it I feel like I really deserve it.
As a skill, it’s so very fun to learn.
When I first decided as an adult to just make this my hobby, I sort of did it with no real plan and figured I’d figure it out. And I did! You can learn just about anything by throwing yourself heedlessly into it. The things I was so proud of myself for figuring out of my own that first trip out are now second nature just a few trips hence. I just go do weekend trips, then come back and watch YouTube and read books and gather knowledge to fill in gaps I noticed I had with each trip. And so now I’m really starting to look like I know something:
I wouldn’t recommend this hobby to just anyone. First, no single hobby or activity is fun for everyone, and I know lots of people wouldn’t want the sore legs and stiff back and physical exhaustion as a price tag for the mental clearing that this does. Heck, it might not even do that mental clearing for you. So I don’t recommend this as a universal thing.
But I DO recommend finding a thing that meets that criteria for you. Something with a great learning curve and deep knowledge so you can continually improve (and thus practice at learning and improving on your own), that also gives you a sense of “earned satisfaction” when you do it. The tools to get there might be different, but the end result is good for the soul. I’m happy with mine – it isn’t for everyone, but I liked my 7 AM today:
And that wasn’t bad at all.