The Heavy Hiker

Sharing Hiking Experiences in Western Australia

Wistful Wanderlust and The Responsibilities of Life

I love nomadic traveller movies and books. They capture my heart.

My all-time favourite is the 2007 movie ‘Into The Wild’ – the story about Christopher McCandless and his attempts to escape his ‘normal’ existence by burning all his money, giving away all his possessions and setting off on a nomadic journey ultimately taking him into the Alaskan wilderness.

Spoiler alert: He dies.

What is so inspiring about a guy who essentially throws his comfortable life in the bin and puts himself in ridiculously dangerous situations to ultimately die, alone in the wilderness?

The Angry Hiker dislikes this movie and its romantic portrayal of irresponsibility, arrogance and lack of preparedness and, being a boy scout, he’s probably right. (Though that’s not going to stop me watching the epic tale again; leaving me in tears contemplating all that my life consists of).

There is much speculation around what ACTUALLY happened to Chris McCandless out there in the Alaskan wilderness but it’s safe to say that he died of either starvation or eating poisonous berries- possibly a combination of both.

His journals tell the story of a lost man, who went out there in search of himself and ultimately the meaning of life.

Sadly, he realizes what matters too late; penning a note in his journal:

“Happiness only real when shared.”

So, why do aspiring nature enthusiasts cling to stories such as his or like the 2014 movie ‘Wild’ starring the Pacific Crest Trail?

Secretly, or not so secretly, I think we would all like to drastically change our lives; be it in a small insignificant way or on a scale as large as a trek into unforgiving and dangerous territory. We all crave adventure, release and escape but few of us have the courage, resources and confidence to actually do it, and I think that is what is so inspiring about these movies.

If you’re over the age of 30 there’s a pretty good chance that you have children, are married (or in a committed relationship) and you are employed or dedicated to raising your children. These form the stated major priorities in your life – regardless of whether you actually prioritise them. You might be working on a significant personal project or saving towards your next overseas holiday or potentially looking at purchasing your first home.

Your priorities are largely money related.

This is the society we live in: We work. We earn money. We spend money.

So for any of us, deciding to make a major life change requires a review of our finances in relation to the goals we wish to achieve and, after the obligations of life, there isn’t always enough of a buffer to accommodate quitting or suspending employment to wander off into the bush and live off the land in search of some great personal revelation.

And to be honest, I think that’s a good thing.

Imagine what kind of society we would live in if we all followed our selfish ambitions, all the time?

Chaos.

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I probably wouldn’t go to work if I didn’t have to earn an income. However, if we all didn’t go to work society as we know it, good and bad, would crumble. Trains wouldn’t run, governments wouldn’t sit (they do still do that, don’t they?) and police wouldn’t patrol.

There is NOTHING wrong with satisfying the deep yearnings of our hearts when our circumstances allow BUT if your hearts desires directly clash with your life responsibilities then perhaps you need to re-evaluate what it is you actually desire in respect to the consequences of those actions.

I can’t imagine my life without trail walking or nature experiences and I work hard to ensure that my journeys don’t negatively impact my family, my work or my finances. I plan to hike Cradle Mountain in Tasmania next year and as a family we’re working towards this goal to ensure that it is paid for by finances auxiliary to the weekly budget.

*Shout out to The Angry Hiker who is working very hard to help us achieve this.

I admire and respect people who can set their hearts ambitions into motion and walk in the life they aspire to but sadly I don’t think many of us operate in this fashion. Many of us are bogged down just trying to ‘hold down the fort’ before even considering what our heart really wants to achieve.

I think it’s important to carry a mix of both:

  • Balance your life in such a way that you can escape the monotony at intervals to recharge yourself and effectively manage life’s priorities.
  • Get connected with the people around you and share your goals and ambitions so that they can support you to achieve them.
  • Respect your responsibilities and the lifestyle they allow you to achieve.
  • Create and implement a financial plan that will ensure you can achieve a measured and considered escape; and finally
  • Do it.

Follow your bliss. Nurture it. Balance it with life.

Don’t neglect your responsibilities in search of selfish ambitions; incorporate your passions into your life in a meaningful, manageable and sustainable way and I’m sure we’ll all be much happier for it.

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