Let’s face it, being a female in today’s society is tough. In fact, given current circumstances in the world, I could probably simplify this further and say being a human in today’s society is tough. In Western Society, women are constantly bombarded with ‘enough.’ Thin enough. Toned enough. Smart enough. Nice enough. Successful enough. The list goes on, along with the plans, programs and products that can help us achieve the ‘more’ that we need. Every single minute of our day, we are being exposed to industries exploiting our self- esteem and self-image, for the sake of consumption and profit. And in this climate, enough will never BE enough.
Back in the time before smart phones and portable devices, we had the ability to switch off from the messaging and detach from it. We could turn the TV off and read a book. We could choose not to buy a particular magazine or switch the channel when the good old ‘enough’ ads came on. We had the (and I think this term is fitting) luxury to detach. Now, through social media and electronic advertising so specifically targeted to our unique browsing experience, we are hard pressed to find more than a handful of hours a day when we are not exposed to something designed to make us question the quality of our current life and selves within the context of ‘enough.’ We are mentally and emotionally tired, we are stressed, and we are over-exposed.
But there are still a few places where they can’t touch us.
I guess in a way you could say that Mother Nature is our ultimate protector; shielding us from the toxicity of modern life by limiting phone coverage and access to other conveniences like electricity. Smartphones aren’t designed to swim in the ocean. Unless you’re a researcher, a laptop is probably not high on the list of things you want to carry to a summit. By encouraging us to become and remain self-sufficient in how we protect and provide for ourselves when we are immersed in nature, Mother Nature is helping us find our light within. She is reminding us how capable, resilient and determined we are. In nature, we are no longer ‘Mum’, ‘Mrs/Ms’, ‘Teacher’, ‘Daughter’, ‘Customer/Consumer’ – we are the most raw and authentic versions of ourselves. One thing I have always said about my running is that when I run, it is a sacred time where I am ‘Leah.’
Our exploration in nature is an exploration of ourselves. We find out what we are made of, what our thoughts are like when the only external noise is the trees, the birds or the ocean. Mother Nature takes us home to ourselves.
There’s another agenda that Mother Nature seems pretty keen on too; facilitating the ever-so-powerful experience of female connection by encouraging us to explore together. Joint female adventure and exploration is the perfect antidote to a world where women are constantly encouraged to compare, criticise and talk about one another. No one gives two hoots who wore their hiking boots best. We want to know whether Jenny is happy with how her shorts perform on a hike, not how good her backside looks in them. When we are exploring together, the thrill of knowing an adventure is underway trumps the bullshit conversations that society expects us to have. We are collectively standing in our own light.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful things adventure can bring to our lives is ourselves. When we are focused on adventure, we open our minds and hearts to the concept of possibility. We stop thinking about how our bodies look or fit in with social norms and we start appreciating how they function to help us get to the top of the hill. We stop limiting ourselves to workouts that we don’t enjoy because we feel obliged to burn fat and we start participating in activities that make our souls happy. We tune into ourselves and we find that light within – a light which has always been burning -that modern society simply cannot completely extinguish, no matter how hard it tries.
Adventure reminds us that we are fierce, independent and self-sufficient. Adventure also takes us back to nature, and as women, our connection with nature is undeniable – we need it to ground ourselves, re-connect and re-set.
For many of us the concept of adventure in any form is daunting and uncomfortable. But there is one thing I know from experience about comfort zones – there’s quite often an old friend waiting, holding a light burning brightly saying “it’s about bloody time you got here, thank goodness you found me.”