"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
-Henry David Thoreau
For most of my life I have so obediently focused on societal pursuits. Ambitious to succeed and to collect as many pieces of paper saying I had achieved such. Satisfied that I was checking all the boxes necessary to live a "successful" life. Well over time my mind grew sharper and my physical health was prime; however, my soul was jettisoning towards an irreversible state of decay.
In August of 2012 ano domini, in a last ditch effort to save a failing relationship, I appealed to the waning heart of my then-girlfriend by suggesting we take some time off work to travel, despite being a closeted home-body myself. Europe, South America, Asia...all global scale sights were within consideration. Then later that month, after hearing about my brothers road trip to Utah that year, we considered visiting a couple of the National Parks.
Well to keep a long story short, as travel plans began to formulate, she-devil...err I mean...she unilaterally decided, and as if by a poof of smoke, our relationship was forfeit. And so by echoing her way of handling things, I abruptly abandoned any plans to take time off to travel.
Flash forward 6 months...its now early January 2013 and my grandfather, an endless font of inspiration, had just passed away. A man who lived a life of unexpected adventure and glory. By not living idly, he was afforded a rich life where, yes his mind and body were sharp but perhaps most importantly, his soul was invincible. And as if his adventurous spirit gave my own soul a pep-talk, I realized stories of epic adventures were no longer to be only passages I read from books or hear from others but rather tales I write and tell myself.
Wasting no time, I revisited the once and future plan to visit the US National Parks, only this time it would take on an entirely different meaning. My intentions were no longer aimed at making someone else happy, but to improve myself and invigorate my own being. I did not want just a sightseeing tour of our country. I wanted to throw myself, stripped of societal comforts, into its beauty AND harshness to see who comes out the other side (if I survived).
So with this new inspiration, I planned, with plenty of room for spontaneity, a year long journey through the American landscape of our National Parks. Disengaged from societal pursuits to set out alone and face the uncertainty guaranteed by the Wilderness. To harden both hands and mind and to not be Lost, but rather Found, in nature.
I would henceforth refer to this rite of passage as...