I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~ John Burroughs
I’ve written recently about being a bit in a funk, throughout the pandemic I’ve felt a bit lethargic, not really productive in my personal life. So this week I’ve made some more effort to get things rolling, I’ve been clicking off some of the things on my to do list. During the summers we get Fridays off, I really haven’t done much on the Fridays so far and they are running out far too quickly. So this week I put my Friday to good use and did a little whale watch out of Moss Landing just north of Monterey. It was an ok day, cloudy but the water was really calm and the temperature was good. We saw a few sets of humpbacks, a nice couple of pods of Rizzo Dolphins and the normal set of Monterey Bay critters, Pelicans, Otters, Sea Lions, Harbor Seals and some really cool Moon Jellyfish.
Hoping to head out again in a couple of weeks to do a Great White Shark trip, hoping it works out as well, enjoy the photos and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane
There’s also some element of coming of age during the Reagan administration, which everybody has painted as some glorious time in America, but I remember as being a very, very dark time. There was apocalypse in the air; the punk rock movement made sense. ~ John Cusak
Please stand by, this has been a test of the Global Apocalypse Response System, this has only been a test. How do you know it’s been a test, well if it wasn’t a test, I’m pretty damn sure you would not be reading this on the internet. There is an amazing book by Laurie Garrett, written in 1995 entitled, “The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance.” In this book she basically predicts diseases like SARS, MERS and COVID 19 nearly 25 years before they appeared. Is she a witch, a psychic? No, just a rational, logical scientist who looked at the way we’re disturbing the environment, saw the emergence of diseases like HIV and Ebola and did some simple extrapolation. The title really tells you the story of the entire book, but it’s still worth a read.
But those diseases weren’t the apocalypse, COVID 19 has done a decent impression of the 1918 Flu, but of course we have much better medicine, treatments and hospitals than we did 100 years ago. And of course we have recently mastered CRSPR, which combined with a decade of work to develop vaccines for SARS and MERS allowed us to far more quickly develop a vaccine than ever before. You see the CRSPR technique allows for massively faster and easier gene manipulation, which is why we were able to so quickly develop mRNA vaccines for COVID 19. COVID 19 is a good virus, by that I mean it does the right things to survive, sure it kills some people, but mostly it doesn’t, and it doesn’t incapacitate them, sometimes it’s even asymptomatic. All of that means there’s a high likelihood that once it infects you, you’ll likely infect someone else, this after all is the core requirement for a virus’ existence.
So this wasn’t Captain Trips, if you’ve read Steven King’s, The Stand, you know what I’m talking about. This wasn’t that rare combination of an easy to spread, slow to fully develop illness with high mortality. That combination is the death knell of civilization as we know it, the kind of disease that could wipe out 95% of humanity. But the Apocalypse, and I’ll define that simply as events, fast or slow that result in a monumental impact on civilization as we know it, the Apocalypse does not have to be triggered by one thing.
Much like a stacked dominoes tipping into each other until all the dominoes have fallen, a disease could trigger lots of other issues, or be triggered by other issues such as Climate Change. We all live, mostly for reasons of necessary sanity, with the fantasy that this can never really happen. It really is just something in dystopian literature and films. We have even moved people who think about and prepare for the possibilities, “preppers/survivalists” to the margins of society and deem them to be nutjobs.
Part of the stress induced by the COVID pandemic was while it was a test, it was a good enough of a test to pierce through our illusion of the impossibility of the Apocalypse. We’ve gotten a really excellent view into how are fellow humans would react to the real thing. One thing that was absolutely proven to us, is that our fellow humans will NOT act rationally. How can I say that? Let’s start with the first thing that became a really hard to find commodity as a result of the pandemic, toilet paper. That’s right, people starting hoarding, of all things, toilet paper! Sure they moved on to some sensible things like hand sanitizer, but toilet paper was first. At various times, the hoarding hit Top Ramen style soups, then meat, then dried beans, canned foods and this was all in response to virus, that while it has killed 600,000+ people in America, that was out of roughly 35 million infections or about a 2% mortality rate.
We saw lock downs, silent streets and highways, people in some instances didn’t leave their homes for months in any significant way. The way we worked completely changed and continues to have implications. Our economy was heavily impacted and we are still seeing global supply chain issues that are leading to at least temporary inflation. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer and angrier, as did people disenfranchised in so many ways. And the world as a whole got nuttier. Political unrest globally is climbing, murder rates in the US are climbing and the political rift between right and left in America is now a chasm. So much so that one side of the debate has decided to abandon science and health recommendations in order to make it an issue for political gain.
And this was only a test, and the test isn’t over, the delta variant has shown us that. I know it’s scary as hell to think about things like the possibility of the world collapsing. But let’s not be stupid, a test is a good thing, as I always told my students when I was teaching. A test tells you where you are and what you need to get better at. So what did the COVID 19 test teach you?
I’m one of those nutjob preppers, to a degree. When COVID madness hit, I had toilet paper, medical supplies, I have a month’s supply of food, had latex gloves, masks, bleach, hand sanitizer all on hand. Not a year’s worth but enough to get by for a time until I could figure out how things would work during the pandemic. Now I realized I need to do a better job on a few fronts, things like having a longer supply of my medications on hand, I discovered I need to do a better job of rotating my emergency supplies, but all in all, I was pretty prepared.
What my preparations did for me was put me in a position of locking down without having to go without, or be terribly inconvenienced until I had time to assess what the new rules of the world were and that gave me piece of mind when a lot of other people were quite frankly freaking out. But we have the vaccines and for the overwhelming majority of us this all worked out ok. It gave us all some remember when stories we can tell friends when we gather in the coming years.
But don’t let what you learned in the test be a waste. It might not be a pandemic, but a wildfire, a collapsed building, an earthquake, political unrest. All of those things have happened in America in the last year and all of them could domino into something bigger that could force you to be on your own for weeks at a time. One of the things that is pretty common in dystopian literature, is that moment when a character realizes, the police, or national guard isn’t just going to show up with food, water and medicine. That’s the panic reality moment, I’m hoping the test has spurred you into putting yourself into a situation where that panic reality moment can come later than sooner.
This has been a test, a test of the Global Apocalypse Response System, this was only a test. The next time may not be.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose. ~ Robert Byrne
Let’s start here, I have a very good life. I’m thankful for what I have, because even given all the work I’ve done to get where I am, no one gets by without help and at least a little luck. I’m relatively healthy, I have people that care about me and people I care about, even if there’s a bit of geography between us. I’ve accomplished many of the goals I’ve set forward that I wanted to achieve in life. I’ve got a job that pays me well, it provides very little personal satisfaction, but it pays well and in the end the work I do helps people improve their lives so the purpose of it all is fairly noble and that’s enough to get me through another few years to retirement.
What I’ve been realizing lately is that there are two things missing in my life, purpose and passion. Now, it’s not like I’m’ a complete nihilist, although the pandemic knocked me for a loop and left me a bit of a nihilist over the last few months, a condition I’m trying to reverse. But the bigger issue is a lack of purpose. This doesn’t mean I don’t have plans, I do. I have a pretty good path to retirement in a few years and some great plans for after.
And there are things I’m passionate about, I love photography and can happily spend hours shooting just about anywhere. My love for travel and new cultures is quite apparent to anyone who reads this blog regularly. But, like most of you, I have to eat and have a job that provides for me but doesn’t allow me to follow my passions. I do my best to pursue them when I can, and have done better than most in terms of quitting my job every few years and taking time to travel, sometimes for up to two years.
But the piece that is most missing for me is purpose. We all stumble across that existential existence question sooner or later. Why am I here, what has my life accomplished? For a lot of us we answer this question in the very existence of the species, by having and raising children we can fulfill this purpose. But for those of us who don’t have children, there isn’t such a straightforward answer.
So as I get older and start looking at the end of my life, how will I answer that existential question? I think for all of us, our interactions with people are part of our legacy. I would like to believe that for the most part, I’ve had a positive impact on the people I’ve interacted with in my life. I hope that the scales are tipped more in favor of the good I’ve done for people over the harm I’ve caused. We’ve all done a bit of both for sure. I especially hope that I’ve done more harm than good for my nieces and nephews.
What I feel most lacking right now is a purpose I can feel passionate about. For me, my work is work, not my purpose and not a passion. My photography, travel and writing are passions but not a purpose. So I’m on a bit of quest right now, it’s one that has seemed so immense, that it’s paralyzed me for a while. It’s one of those times I’m being forced to look back on the advice I give others while searching for a career path. And the first thing is to lay on a rock and let snowflakes fall on your head and let your mind go. Given the time of year however, I may have to refer to a bit of wisdom from Bloom County, and perhaps it’s far too long since I’ve been a naked dork, lying naked in the periwinkle with the sun upon my nose. Step 1 is set, I’ll keep you posted. ~Rev Kane
It’s been a long, complicated and hard year for most people. As life starts to come back to whatever we consider normal, I have found it difficult to figure out what I went to do as I return to pre-pandemic life. Part of the problem I think for me is that I’m over thinking the whole thing. It seems in many ways that I feel like I have to do something big to make up for lost time, and then once I consider the actual realities of where we still are in terms of the pandemic, I end up not doing anything.
Oddly, starting to go to the gym again has given me some insight into this issue for me. I’d almost forgotten how much I like the simple structure of gym time. While I did a good job over the last year of working out with dumbells at home. I was able, due to working from home, to stay really consistent with a lifting schedule and that was great. But it doesn’t compare to having the variety of equipment available as well as being able to combine cardio easily with my lifting schedule. But after a few days in the gym I missed my daily walks and so today, on a particularly sunny day, took a nice long walk after my gym workout.
A big reminder for me in this is how much we need to focus on the simple things in life that make us happy. For me this week, I had a big reminder besides the lovely walk today. My littlest niece got her birthday presents from me and my brother sent me a lovely picture of her holding them all at once. The look on her face was that, I don’t know which one I want to deal with first look. Later that day she sent me an Instagram video with a filter that made her a pickle, and it just repeated with her saying, “look, I’m a pickle.” Made my whole day that she wanted to send me that.
Today I took a nice slow walk by the ocean and really was present during the walk, reminding myself how much I love the fact that I live close enough to do that anytime I feel the need. It’s important to focus on how these little things can bring incredible joy into our lives. Especially given that the little things are so much more accessible and overall likely provide the bulk of our happiness.
Whenever I think about the idea of simple pleasures in my life I think about a particular day I had right in the middle of much bigger adventure. I wrote about this in my book about the Appalachian Trail, and it happened in Virginia. On a really perfect summer hiking day, you know the type, 75 degrees with a nice breeze and big puffy while clouds in the skies. I walked into a county park, it was marked on the hiking maps because there was piped drinkable water and actual bathrooms. So I stopped in the park to eat lunch. On the trail it was always a good day when you had someplace you could stop, sit at a picnic table, not have to treat water and have an actual bathroom to use, maybe even find a vending machine with a coke.
But the most magnificent part of the day was after lunch when I decided to just take a break. So I threw my pack up on the table and laid down in the sun and just watched clouds. I hadn’t done that since I was a kid. And I laid there for about two hours, it was funny, people I knew on the trail would come through the park, say hi, hang out and split but I just laid there. It felt great, it was a moment in my life when I felt absolutely no obligation, and no pressure. It truly felt like I was a kid again. The fact was, I could get up and hike to where I was planning on camping that night, or I could lay there all day and hang my hammock in the park for the night. Those simple, free and unobligated moments in life are few and far between as an adult.
When you find yourself in a moment of simple pleasure, it’s important to slow down, become present and really immerse yourself in how wonderful and special those times are and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane
So I’m a day late for my weekly post, just didn’t have anything yesterday, to tell the truth, I still don’t. I’m a funny sort of writer, I’m much more inspired when things are bad then when they are good. And right now, things are pretty good, just had a really good vacation, had a slow and easy weekend, even my Monday, although starting far too early, was pretty mellow. I even made one of the best dinners of my life tonight, bacon wrapped, stuffed cabbage it was absolutely tasty.
But the work calls and if I don’t write a post on Sunday, it’s a necessity I get to it on Monday. But like I said, I’ve got nothing tonight. While driving back from campus this afternoon Tainted Love, by Soft Cell came on the radio and that always takes my mind to one place. A little bar where I grew up and the summer of 1983.
Where I grew up I had a friend named John, who happens to have three incredibly beautiful older sisters. They were legendary in the neighborhood, hell, the whole town for that matter. Kathy, the middle sister was my favorite. She set a model for women I would be attracted to for most of my adult life, slim, beautiful, long dark hair and big chocolate eyes. She was lithe and sensuous and around her I was a babbling idiot with a raging crush. She loved it, there is something about young attractive adult women that makes them enjoy playfully torturing younger guys with crushes. The sisters were no exception and Kathy was the worst, they loved touching my hair or whispering in my ear just to watch my face turn beet red.
I grew up in a weird time, I turned 18 during the Reagan years. The drinking age was 18 which was somehow offensive to conservatives. They were ok with me going to war at 18 as evidenced by the re-activation of the Selective Service Act, but God forbid I should have a drink. So although the drinking age was 18 when I turned 18 in August of 1982, it went up to 19 in January of 1983. So I was legal for 4 months, then illegal for 8 months, no grandfathering in, but once I turned 19 somehow I got grandfathered in for 21. Like I said, weird times.
It was also long enough ago that in New York drivers’ licenses were still card stock with no pictures. So it was not too difficult to change the 8 in the month of my birthday to a 3, just took carefully erasing half of the 8. It held up under casual scrutiny and the bar I wanted to hang out in that summer casually scrutinized IDs. So almost every night I got in and was able to drink underage. It was in that bar that I first heard Tainted Love and they played it often.
Occasionally from time to time the police would do a quick walk through and check for underage drinkers. They were mostly there I think to check out the women in the bar but it was still a problem for me. You see, my mother was the local police clerk, so I knew every single officer in the department. Not to mention my uncle and cousins were sheriff deputies and when they decided to really bust underage folks the sheriffs would join in as well.
So most nights they would stroll through and it was easy enough to slip out the back, or even slip by when they were taking to a pretty woman and avoid being seen. But one particular evening they were determined to bust underage drinkers. Officers, and a fair number, came in from both entrances and were being very determined. I was being squeezed into a vice of an underage drinking charge, I knew every officer who had come in, they all knew I was underage. I slipped into the middle of the bar and was looking frantically for a way out of this mess. I’m sure I looked quite panicked.
Then, the hand of an angel gently rested on my shoulder, “sit down she whispered in my ear,” I complied, when and angel speaks, you listen. As the cops closed in she sensuously climbed onto my lap and my friend’s sister Kathy looked me in the eye, smiled and began kissing me, very passionately. Apparently, having the tongue of a beautiful woman fully down your throat while on your lap makes you look of age. We made out for like 10 minutes, until the officers worked through the bar and took several people out of the bar for underage drinking.
In a moment, my night went from horror and absolute hell, to the most heavenly thing my young 19 year-old brain could imagine. She broke the kiss, looked around to make sure the cops were gone and gave me the biggest Cheshire Cat smile you’ve ever seen. I’m sure I looked stunned, I know I had one hell of a smile on my face. She slowly got off of my lap, leaned down, whispered, “thanks, that was fun,” in my ear, kissed me on my cheek and walked away. That was one hell of a night and Tainted Love always takes me back there.
I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.~ Robert Louis Stevenson
So I disappeared for a couple of weeks and was basically doing a classic American road trip. I did a big loop. I drove out of the bay area to Bakersfield, from there to Las Vegas, a quick stop for the night in Albuquerque, then down to Roswell, Carlsbad Caverns, back through to Holbrooke, AZ and Petrified Forest National Park, a return to Vegas, up to the ghost town of Bodie, CA and home. A little about each below.
Las Vegas – Part 1
Arrived in a very open Vegas, it was kind of weird being someplace where over 90% of the people were maskless. I hit town and decided to gamble for an hour before meeting friends for dinner, I won $1500, the trip was off to a wonderful start. Dinner with old friends was fabulous. Drove out the next day with an overnight stop in Albuquerque.
Roswell was what I expected Roswell to be. It was a bit of a tourist trap, but in such a campy, 50s movie sense of the world that I thought it was marvelous. It was just goofy fun, lots of super fake aliens, t-shirt shops and aliens everywhere. I dug the International UFO museum, the black-light space walk and just the general fun sense of the whole place.
Carlsbad Caverns absolutely blew me away. The magnificent size of the inside of the caverns was absolutely mindboggling. To see stalactites and stalagmites that are 60 and 80 feet long everywhere left me in awe. It was an absolutely fascinating place to walk through.
Petrified Forest, Holbrooke
Petrified Forest is a bit of a letdown, it’s my own fault, the image that hits my brain with the title is this idea of some sort of standing ancient forest. Of course ancient wood that has been turned into rock obviously had to be laying in the ground. So the site is pretty, open prairie land but not much else. But I did stay in a fabulously funky little motel that gave me a cold bottle of water and an ice cream sandwich at check-in.
Vegas – Part 2
Vegas on the second stop was great again, won some more money, and got to see two old friends. My friend John manages a boxing gym in Vegas and I got to be meet a famous boxer Rafael Marquez, he was super nice. Then my friend Jackie who I graduated from high school with was in town with a friend, we met for a drink. And while talking with them it turns out her friend had read my book Appalachian Trail Happiness, it was a really fun moment of recognition for both of us.
A little visit to Bodie, one of California’s more famous ghost towns. It’s a really interesting place and you can’t beat a chunk of amazing history for an $8 entry fee. One super interesting thing and you can see it hanging in the left upper corner of the image. Is a light bulb that is functioning and well over 100 years old.
I talk a lot about the need for time off and relaxation, to make sure that we balance out the stress of work with the relaxation of fun and vacation. For me, a lot of that is about getting away and a road trip is a great way for me to do that. Hours alone driving, my music cranked up high, all the little oddities that you encounter on the road, the weird little moments are all life candy to me.
Driving through New Mexico, heading to Roswell, you begin to realize how out in the middle of nowhere Roswell really is. There’s this feeling when I’m driving through big open country. In New Mexico I turned south on highway 270, it’s one of those nice, four-lane roads with very little traffic. Speed limits seem basically irrelevant, you always have that, what if I break down moment? But there’s this incredible feeling of freedom on the open road. Flying along, my music cranked up, open space in every direction, I feel like I’m truly flying. Like gravity and life hold no sway, that I am truly free to go where I want, how I want and be whoever I want to be, anything at all. It’s also a dangerous moment for me, I’m never as close to just disappearing into the sunset as I am on those roads. I feel the draw of complete anonymity and a vagabond lifestyle pulling me away from default life. I need every once in awhile to feel that pull and be completely on that edge, my version of screaming into the abyss and waiting to hear what the echo has to say.
I thought a lot about the idea of a spacecraft crashing out there, so far from anything. I get why a secret military base was located out there. My god, in the 1940s, Roswell would have been beyond isolated, secrets would be easy to keep in a place like Roswell. Who knows, today it’s campy plastic aliens and Dairy Queens. I’m glad I visited, it was fun, the road miles help my psyche and seeing old friends and getting my first hugs in over a year was good for my soul. Definitely happy days my friends. ~ Rev Kane
If an alien came down from Mars and saw us all taking selfies and the like, I think it’d up and leave. It’d think we were all mad. ~ Joe Cole
Roswell! Roswell!! Roswell!!! I can’t remember what TV or movie this is from, maybe an episode of the X Files. And it really fits my whole impression of Roswell and also why I have always wanted to go there. I was an avid reader as a kid, and I always dug Saturday movies on cable. Given my age I’m the perfect person to become fascinated by the whole UFO phenomenon.
The UFO craze hit heavily in the US during the 1950’s after a number of incidents in the late 1940’s that captured America’s collective imagination. There was a report of saucers in the Northwest by Kenneth Arnold, the Battle of Los Angeles, and of course the infamous crash at Roswell reported in the newspapers by the United States Air Force as, “RAAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region,” and hit a fever pitch with UFOs being spotted over Washington DC and the Whitehouse on successive weekends in 1952. Now I wasn’t born yet but it was these events and a slew of alien invasion Scifi flicks in the 50’s that created a cultural interest in UFO’s.
So as a kid as I watched monster movies and alien movies, I had a growing awareness, add in my interest in science fiction, reading about alien worlds and space travel and I was ripe for what happened in the 1980’s. In the 80’s we got a whole new slew of really great alien focused Scifi, and then in 1980, Charles Berlitz’s book, The Roswell Incident came out and re-ignited interest in the alien visitation, Budd Hopkins’ book Missing Time, building off of the Betty and Barney Hill abduction story brought alien abduction ideas into the culture. All of this of course caught my imagination and I’ve been fascinated ever since.
So of course in America, the holy grail of UFO culture is a visit to Roswell, New Mexico. The problem with a Roswell visit is that Roswell is really out there. It’s in the middle of New Mexico a couple hours south of Highway 40. But given the pandemic, traveling internationally is not really on the menu right now, so I’ve decided to do a road trip. I’ll drive through Vegas and out to Roswell and spend a couple of days there while also visiting Carlsbad Caverns. Looping back through Petrified National Forest National Park, Vegas again. Appropriately a ride up through the Extraterrestrial Highway and past Area 51. Landing at a pretty famous ghost town, Bodie and finally back home.
This will very much be a road trip in the traditional Americana type of road trip. I’m staying, for the most part at smaller hotel/motels, and definitely planning on hitting as many roadside attractions as I have time to hit. A lot of photography, a little writing and reading and a complete absence of work. So a week of doing nothing but things I love, photography, traveling, listening to music, nothing serious and hopefully just having fun. Roswell is a giant, kitschy tourist trap and I plan on digging every minute of it.
How does this fit in with the Ministry of Happiness, work/life balance and all of the things we normally discuss? Really simply, doing the things you enjoy, having fun, exploring your interests, well this is the life, in your work/life balance and you should go at it at least as hard as you go at the work side of that equation. And when you do, these will be the especially happy days you’ll have my friends. ~ Rev Kane
And apparently I need to spend some more time reading my own stuff. Worry in fact can actually have negative health impacts so it’s an issue that needs to be paid attention to for your own good.
What got me thinking about this tonight was a bill I got yesterday. You see, apparently, when I left the house I was renting two years ago, I somehow paid all but $16 of my bill. Then, they never contacted me, until a letter in December saying you’re being reported to the credit agencies and a list of my twenty-four cent interest charges each month. It is frustrating, I’ve worked for a decade to have a very good credit score and to have something like this impact it, well it got too far into my head. In fact, it kept me from falling to sleep, then it infected my dreams.
The point that I want to you to get out of this, the point I need to get out of this, is that you really can’t let the little things get to you. I gave this stupid little issue an oversized piece of my psyche and it impacted my happiness for a night. Life is too short to even give up that amount of time to something small and stupid. So try to keep the little things from getting to you, look at them realistically and assess their size and importance in your life more accurately and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane
The Extra Magic of Getting Out of your Comfort Zone
My comfort zone is like a little bubble around me, and I’ve pushed it in different directions and made it bigger and bigger until these objectives that seemed totally crazy eventually fall within the realm of the possible. ~ Alex Honnold
It’s been an interesting week or so in terms of writing the Ministry of Happiness. I was trying to decide whether or not I would keep writing the blog. I’ve been doing this for over ten years and it has been the most rewarding writing project I could have hoped for. But writing a blog, especially doing a weekly new post is hard. I’ve written over 1100 posts for this blog. What’s so hard about doing this is two things. First, coming up with new ideas. I mean there are only so many core aspects to happiness and how to achieve it. Which is why the blog has morphed over the years to be a bit more of a personal reflection of my own life and path to happiness as opposed to focusing on happiness as a more clinical or general thing.
Second, is the lack of feedback, you get so few comments, part of that is platform requirements, partly people just don’t. Then you look at your numbers and it can be depressing. One post about Kardashian butt size on most sites yields the equivalent of all of the views I get in a year on this blog. Same goes for conspiracy theory, horrid political positions and on and on, trash gets views. It’s hard not to feel like it’s all a waste of time or that hey, maybe what I’m doing just isn’t all that relevant or good.
But the universe works in funny ways. During the time that I was mulling over my options I heard from several people. These people all related how the blog had in some way inspired them to make positive changes in their life. One person talked about losing an amazing amount of weight and another about making a positive job change. They both thanked me for how the blog has helped them. It’s an amazing what just a couple of comments can do in terms of giving you fuel for the work.
In the end, the reason to continue, not much of a mystery as you’re reading a new post, is the thought of quality over quantity. While sure, I would love more feedback, yes, I would love to have a wider reach and bigger reader numbers. But I do want to thank all of you for reading. Honestly, in many ways the blog has been more successful than I could have imagined. The blog has over 200 subscribers, the idea that 200 people have signed up to receive every single new post is both flattering and amazing to me. Secondly, although my numbers aren’t huge, my average year is 15,000 post views it is still nice to know that 40 times a day, all over the world, people read what I have to say.
So my first point tonight is really focus on the positive. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the negatives, there’s something unfortunate in human nature or in our socialization that makes this all too easy. So instead of lamenting my lack of page views and feedback I need to keep my eye on the number of people who do read the blog and the impact it has had and hopefully will continue to have for people. So we keep moving forward and writing the blog.
In that conversation with one of the people about their career choices, we got talking about getting out of your comfort zone. Now I’ve written about this before, and if you’re a regular reader you know I’m a huge proponent of getting out of your comfort zone. The quote I used above really hits the nail on the head. Every time you get out of your comfort zone you grow in confidence and expand your comfort zone. Which then of course, makes doing something outside of that zone a bigger, more exciting thing to do. I’ve seen this very clearly in my life in a number of areas, but I’ll talk a little about hiking.
For most of my life I’ve been a day hiker, I’d done day hikes all over the world. But in 2010 I decided that I wanted to do a hike to base camp on Mount Everest in Nepal. The idea of hiking for nearly a month, much of the time at altitudes higher than any mountain in the continental United States was incredibly intimidating. So I started first with doing some altitude training. I spent time hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park above 8000 feet including some walks on Bryan Head at nearly 10,000 feet. I also started hiking multiple days in a row at altitude.
This lead to my second step which was doing a full week trek. So I headed to Scotland to hike the Great Glen Way for a week. It was my first week long supported hike. Having done that, along with my altitude work in Utah, gave me the confidence to do the Nepal Trek to Mount Everest. A thirty day supported hike in high passes of the Himalaya. It was this experience that then allowed me to have the confidence to take on a solo hike of the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail that I chronicled in the book, Appalachian Trail Happiness and was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
That’s the magic of getting out of your comfort zone, it allows you to continue you to do bigger and better things. But there’s a bit of extra magic in all of this as well. You see by getting out of your comfort zone you’re challenging yourself in new ways. Some times it’s physical like hiking longer distances, higher altitudes or solo hikes on your own. But almost always the biggest challenges, the ones that are most rewarding when taken on, are the mental challenges. You see the real extra magic in getting out of your comfort zone is what you learn about yourself.
I learned so much in my trek’s to Everest and even more so on my three months on the Appalachian Trail. I learned to appreciate the pace of life more, I learned acceptance, I learned a lot about my capacity to endure and overcome negative circumstances. The most amazing thing you learn though is that you can. That you can do more than you imagined, that you have capacity that you never realized or likely never believed in. This works with other things as well, taking on bigger challenges in your career allows you to see greater opportunities. Taking on bigger health improvement challenges like weight loss allow you to see even bigger changes are possible.
In the end, what getting out of your comfort zone and achieving these things does, is allow you not just to dream, but to believe those dreams are achievable. And that makes for many happy days my friends.~ Rev Kane