All too often, I think we chase moments hoping to make a specific event into a special memory rather than letting life unfold organically. We’ve become so accustomed to life in the fast lane that even the thought of unplugging elicits a chuckle and many an eye roll. We rely so heavily on human interaction to validate our adventures and sense of self that we can easily forget what it’s like to feel all the feels when something amazing or tragic or scary happens. I am absolutely guilty of escaping into my comfort zone when I feel intimidated by a new experience but a recent trip changed my perspective.
I had found myself in a very unfamiliar situation: Alone in the middle of a small town I’d never been to. Nothing was familiar expect the lyrics blaring from the radio speakers: “Baby you a song, you make me wanna roll my windows down, and cruise.” I had very limited cell service so couldn’t Google any trails to hike or places to explore. I had to rely solely on the recommendations provided by the dirt under my tires. I drove around for a while feeling lost and unsure of my situation but soon found that exploring on your own isn’t so bad; you get to enjoy your surroundings on your own time. I realized for the first time in a long time that my life had slowed down to a relaxing and comfortable pace that I wasn’t used to.
Living in a larger city like Denver, it can be very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that life throws your way. There were times I would feel unpopular if I didn’t have every single minute of my life planned out, only to realize on this trip that it’s ok to unplug and not have concrete plans. In fact, it made me more creative and helped me appreciate my surroundings and current situation. The mountains have an amazing way of melting away your worries and helping you breathe in fresh ideas. It’s like a reset button for my outlook on life. As cliché as it sounds, sometimes you need to escape to find out where you belong.
So instead of chasing other people’s footprints, I started to make my own. I parked at a random trailhead, postholed in shin deep snow and slid through mud puddles, all for the sake of smiles. When I got back to the car, my shoes were caked in mud and my legs were sore but I had been the only one on the trail and it felt so relaxing. I was able to recharge and slow down; I was on what city folks like to call “mountain time” and there was no rush to get back to paved roads, stop lights and busy intersections.
If you find yourself experiencing FOMO or Instagram envy (it happens to all of us), grab your keys, crank up the radio and escape to your own version of a dirt road adventure. I promise you won’t regret it.