I always seem to get into a bit of a funk at this time of year. My big summer trip is over, and the next expedition seems too far away to be real. Ellesmere Island in May 2020? Might as well say I’m going to the moon.
This idle time is necessary for me to recharge and regain the fire for the next big challenge, but it also gets me thinking: what’s the point? Why go on adventures? Why do anything for that matter? Each and every one of us is going to be pushing up daisies sooner or later, so what’s with all the clawing and scratching to get to the top of the mountain or the corporate ladder? Once at the top, there’s a brief euphoria, and then you do it all over again… and again… and again. Like a gerbil in a wheel. You just keep going until you drop. What exactly, is the POINT?
It’s an age-old question, which for some is answered by religion, others by family, others by career. Everyone is different, and these solutions don’t work for me. The only thing that seems to push all vestiges of existential angst from my brain is wilderness adventure. Life seems to run through my fingers like a handful of sand that doesn’t stop flowing until I step into the woods again.
When I’m travelling through a pristine landscape for weeks on end, I am so absorbed in whatever I’m doing and with everything around me that my brain never brings up that question. When life is boiled down to the simplicity of moving and surviving, I don’t question the point of it all because there is no point. There is no choice.
Ski, paddle, hike or cycle all day long, followed by camping, cooking, eating and sleeping; then repeat. ‘The point’ becomes completely irrelevant. Being wired into this nomadic simplicity is so engaging and absorbing that ‘the point’ is never questioned. Boredom and listlessness paradoxically only arise when life is too easy.
Look to the animals if you doubt me. Wild wolves, deer or squirrels don’t get bored; they don’t question the point of existence. They’re too busy with day-to-day, moment-to-moment survival. True, their brains aren’t wired like ours—but we’re animals, too.
Just look at our ancient ancestors: hunting, gathering, travelling, sheltering and breeding consumed every second of their lives. They may have only lived for an average of 40 years, but they were fully engaged. One crowded hour is better than a century of aimless sloth.
We need to be on the edge to be content, to not have the luxury to contemplate ‘the point.’ In this day and age, when all of our basic needs can be taken care of with a click, as our society slips further into deep sedentary dissatisfaction, we need to run, to sprint into the wild—then keep moving through the mountains, forests, oceans and rivers so that there is no point to ponder. There is just us, in the present, bathed in endorphins and the simple wonder of an ancient and beautiful world.
P.S. Want to follow Frank Wolf's adventures in print?
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