Why Bother To Try Something New?
I am gearing up to go backpacking. I bought or borrowed everything I will need. While packing my new backpack, I discovered pouches I did not know I had and filled them to the brim with dried fruit and dehydrated oatmeal. I have read the directions for using my water purification system and hydration pack. More than once, I watched a video on how to use my bear spray. I tried the self-inflating sleeping pad and discovered it really does self inflate. Following the directions, I practiced setting up my one person tent. I pressed my sleeping bag into a compression bag and attached a whistle to an accessible loop on my waterproof hiking pants. I think I am ready, yet I won’t know for sure until I am actually out on the trail.
Although I call myself a hiker, backpacking is something new. I like being outside and admired at first, from a distance, a fellow writer who backpacks alone. A member of my writing group, and a wonderful editor, she has not written or submitted any historical fiction pieces, her preferred genre, to the group for a while. Last summer, at our writer’s retreat, I asked her why she stopped writing. “I want to have some new adventures of my own. Then I will have some real adventures to write about.”
I listened as she told me about her hikes along the Idaho Centennial Trail and became intrigued how she traverses trails, alone in the wilderness. Her company, she said, included the earth and sky and an occasional critter. Then I asked if she would ever consider taking me along on one of those wild hikes of hers. Without hesitating, she nodded and said yes.
And so began a different sort of relationship between us. We are both still writers, but we’ve extended ourselves beyond the confines of our writer’s group and out into the open space of nature. Doing something new has a way of broadening friendships.
She helped me prepare for this new activity called backpacking, one that I am now committed to, by accompanying me on a shopping spree. She helped fit me for a backpack, counseled me on cooking systems and explained the gadgets included in water filtration packages. I now respect her knowledge and appreciate her patience, two things I previously did not have insights about. Doing something new can give us a greater appreciation for someone.
What attracted me to this fresh venture is that it is uncharted territory. It requires more stamina than any other physical activity I already engage in simply because of the number of miles accompanied by the weight of my gear. Yet, I don’t mind being active in a different way.
Our goal, my friend assures me, is not necessarily to cover a large number of miles, only to go somewhere unexplored, to see unfamiliar landscapes and experience adventure.
Why bother to try something new. It is worth it to venture out into untested territory. Then we will have something new to write about, or at least to talk about with our new friend.