Making the case for solo recreation

In our current over-connected world, there are two types of being alone: physically and digitally.

Many of us (including myself) like to recreate alone. There is something infinitely peaceful about exploring the wilderness without the threat of an alien thought or obligatory conversation — being able to let your mind meander and have a true thought.

Remember how that feels?

Leave your phone at home. Trust us, people hiked alone pre-cell. Photo: Aaron Burden/Unsplash

The idea that we must be eternally connected may feel damaging and fragmenting.

When you’re out in the water, feeling the pulse and ebb of the waves, and you think to yourself, “I may be missing an email,” that’s when it might just be time for you to disconnect.

Solitude is an underrated state of being. Photo: Paul Biondi/Unsplash

The abundance of apps and devices that keep us tethered to the digital world has made work both more accessible and, at the same time, exhausting.

Maneuvering a world in which every message must be answered instantaneously causes mental stress that we have yet to measure. Tracking every moment to share with an online “community” causes undue pressure. Do we remember what it feels like to not be watched?

Turn off your notifications. Your email can wait. Photo: Marco Forno/Unsplash

However, there is a cure, and it’s simply unplugging.

It’s stepping out on your own. If you want to hike a trail alone, just go for it. Don’t let hesitation be your downfall.

Turn your tracking app off. You don’t need to record this hike (or this ride, or that swell). So what if someone scrambled up this hill faster? Will pushing yourself to the summit at breakneck speeds make you a better person?

Will it increase your self-worth?

When you’re gasping for air at the peak, checking your phone to make sure you finally beat that other user, will you notice the shimmering horizons that stretch out in an endless sky-blue and evergreen haze?

Put the phone down. Photo: Tommy Lisbin/Unsplash

You could always take a photo on your phone. That way you’ll remember, right? And then you’ll be able to show your friends.

Satisfaction rarely feels so empty as when you’re staring at the grainy photo you took on the hardest climb of your life. You’ll wish you had looked at that peak without the conduit of your cell phone screen.

Enjoy the climb. Remember what it feels like to have uncomfortable thoughts. Chasing them away with a climbing partner or phone works for only so long.

Self-growth comes in the moments that aren’t easy — in the wave that terrifies you, the slope that seems too steep, never-ending and icy.

Share those moments with yourself. If you must show a picture to friends, paint it with words.

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