On a recent family trip to the ancient coastal Redwoods in Northern California, I was fortunate enough to experience nature’s unrivaled and raw beauty. With my wife and kids in tow, we spent several days hiking deep into the woods, disconnecting from technology, allowing ourselves the opportunity to reconnect as a family….and as individuals….with Mother Earth.
What was interesting is that this was one of those experiences, that while we were having it, I was completely aware of the enlightenment and clarity I was gaining…while the experience was happening! Very rare.
Having had a few days to reflect, I thought I would share my revelations from the Redwoods.
Technology Breeds Doubt
While standing inside a cathedral of giant trees, miles from the closest roads or other humans…I became acutely aware that we are too reliant on technology. I’m probably not blowing your mind here…but there is more.
For the first forty five minutes on one of our hikes… on the rugged North Prairie Creek Trail I found myself obsessively checking my phone to pull up a map, to see where we were, what time it was, or which way the compass was pointing. As the “no service” symbol teased me, I jumped over to the All Trails map to see if I could get a different look at where we were at….turned my phone off/on….tried to remember that #code Verizon gives you to refresh which cell tower your phone is pulling from….until finally I gave up and conceded that my phone had been rendered useless.
It was about thirty minutes after the surrender, that I realized that I spent the first forty-five minutes of our hike in a state of doubt, triggered by my reliance on technology.
You see…prior to the hike I had consulted a hard copy map that was installed behind plexiglass at the trailhead. I studied it thoroughly, and had it burned into my mind. Yet, as soon as I took two steps into the forest I felt the waves of uncertainty wash over me and immediately reverted back to my phone. What is even more disturbing, is that I am one of those people that has an incredible sense of direction. My wife would tell you that you could pack me up in a box, shake it up, ship to another state and I would be able to find my way back home without a map.
So while we talk a lot about tech addiction…maybe the conversation needs to be about how tech is chipping away at our ability to be confident with our intuition.
And just so I don’t leave you hanging…I navigated the rest of the trail on memory and intuition.
Silence Is Essential
If you have ever been to the Redwoods, or any TRULY remote location in the world you will have had the amazing experience of standing in ultimate silence. No sounds of human activity or noise pollution. Just the wind, birds, ocean…and then silence….it’s almost impossible to describe. It’s deafening.
Often I have found myself throwing on headphones to escape outside noises, only to play some music or zone out on the calm voice of a meditation app. Unfortunately that is not silence......and.......that has become the new standard of silence for many of us.
Being forced into a place where there is only one place for your mind, attention, or presence to live.…being in the current moment….is something that I think we have lost touch with and so desperately need.
It may not be possible to get that absolute silence of nature, however as I have learned from this trip into the woods, making a more intentional effort to seek out the silence of nature in any way possible is critical.
There Is More Important Shit To Focus On
We give an amazing amount of weight and mindshare to our work, and our businesses. Do you ever find that your “business thoughts” tend to get heavy?
What I mean by that, is when we are navigating our businesses on a daily basis, the frequency and gravity of thoughts tend to come faster and heavier as each day goes by. Sometimes it becomes the thing that we think about more than anything else, even when bigger challenges in our personal life are requiring more attention or navigation.
Without a break, it can create a scenario where business is all we think about or worry about.
Standing amongst trees that have lived far longer than any business, two things became very clear to me:
- Taking a break from work for an extended period of time, on a regular basis should be a requirement of any business owner. Breaking up our subconscious business chatter allows us to reset our awareness, and forces clarity.
- All of the business “heaviness” that you are carrying, is really not that big of a deal. Majority of it is shallow anxious thought, encouraged by your subconscious checking in to remind you it is there. When positioned alongside the more important dealings of your life, like relationships, experiences, love and creativity….there is more important shit to focus on.