Mashed Potatoes in the Woods

Copy of BFPY JOURNAL-20

By: Danielle Wilson

I’ve been progressively spoiled to perceive vacations as utterly life changing events. In a lot of ways, the past few trips I’ve embarked upon have been just that, adventures that guide me into seeing myself, or the world differently than I had prior. The kicker is, I only recently started prioritizing travel in my life, knowing that time away once every other year, or even longer than that, is not in alignment with how I want to be living the life I have. So, yes, the handful of trips I’ve taken throughout the past few years have been transformative because they were all well-past due! As a result, I was beginning to associate any time away from home with the discovery of mentality altering, momentum building realizations. So, when I left on a camping trip with family and friends last week, I had just that in mind: I was prepared to watch magic happen within me and around me on a grand scale, with thoughts of existential quality spinning through my head, inspired by the endless nature around me…what a fantasy I built! 

The mountains I resided in for the weekend were, of course, as striking as ever, humbling me as a mere fraction of the grander web of life—but this is wisdom that I saturate myself in on a pretty regular basis and, fortunately, no longer feel like I need the reminder of a trip to bring me back to center in that right. Aside from living amongst the trees for a few days, my trip pretty much consisted of sitting my butt in a chair, drinking a beer, and watching a fire rise and burn for three days straight. To be honest, the realest realization I had was about a day and half in when I noticed my joints start to get a little stiff, and my belly a little bloated. All the “doing nothing” that was happening created quite the contrast to the highly active life I typically lead, and to be honest, I felt pretty bad about it! A momentary battle of internal dialogue ensued: “I should be working out every morning, at least going on a long hike. Ugh, I’ve been eating so unhealthily, snacking too much! I never drink this often at home. I’m really not putting myself in the position to arrive home feeling renewed and inspired. I should be doing that, why haven’t I been doing that?!” Truthfully, the spiral could have continued infinitely, but then I paused and considered how proactive I am in my daily life with work, physical activity, and putting myself in positions, whether by being with friends, reading a book, or going for walks, which inspire me. 

I began to pull my focus back, bird’s eye view, to acknowledge and show respect towards the way I’ve chosen to live my life on a regular basis—doing is my norm, as is seeing, motivating, and being an active participant in the impacting of society. So, yea, my long weekend away might not have been the life changing, mentality shifting trip I’ve been privileged enough to experience a handful of times; maybe I sat around like a pile of mashed potatoes, buried under sweaters, staring blankly at the blaze of red and orange that quickly became the center of my world. I allowed my mind to flat line and my body to go lazy and limp, but you know what, that’s okay! I decided if that’s all my trip was, then that’s all it’s meant to be, and I should just enjoy it. 

In this age of presenting our lives as perfectly curated experiences, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to release the need for those jaw-dropping, head-turning moments—I mean, what else would be worthy of living on my feed?! It’s almost laughable when you pull away from this twisted desire and see how ridiculous it is to have a life is constantly “turned on” in that way. I think there are about three pictures that exist of me from this trip, all taken unprompted, and all portraying me exactly as I was: plopped in a camping chair, wearing sweats from head to toe. It wasn’t exciting, it definitely wasn’t glamorous, but it was exactly what I needed. I checked out, reverted in, and rested (as well as treated) my body in ways I don’t typically at home. What’s funny to me is although I began writing this from the perspective of, “well, I don’t have any big ‘yoga teacher’ inspiration or lesson to provide them from this trip, I guess I’ll just liken myself to a lump of mushy potatoes and hope for the best,” there, of course, is something to be taken away from what started as mere self-deprecating humor: we can’t will our big “aha” moments into existence, nor can we craft our experiences to live up to the expectations we’ve attached to them. All we can do is be with what is and trust we’re getting what we need from it. If you’re like me, and the busy buzz of life draws you in like a magnet, I hope you can find peace in the moments of rest and know that even doing nothing other than breathing in air and staring off into the abyss is something useful, beautiful, and important in its own way. Stop trying so hard, care a little softer, ride the wave, and just be.



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