“I went into 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
Imagine this: you’re walking up a wooded pathway, listening to the peaceful noises of the woods: the chirping of birds and the crunching of leaves under your feet. As you’re walking, you emerge out of the woods and stumble upon a breathtaking, mountaintop view. You have to take a second to stop and gaze at the sheer beauty of the natural world, and in that moment, you’ve uncovered the key to your happiness in life.
Society today teaches people that there is only one clear-cut path to follow in order to be successful in life. This path begins with college and then quickly moves forward to career, spouse, house, and kids. The majority of career paths in college have even been ostracized, leaving many to only choose among a handful of science majors and then possibly continue into the medical field or attend law school.
However, the world is complex, and it needs more than science to understand it, and every individual is drastically different and largely unique, and all will not find happiness in the same way, in the same order. This is why I propose a challenge to my fellow college students: give yourself a chance to experience the majesty you caught a glimpse of in the first paragraph. Where is this mysterious wonder you might ask? It runs all the way up and down eastern United States, the Appalachian Trail (AT).
“Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and numbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my care falls from me – I am happy.” -Hamlin Garland
From Springer Mount in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, the AT provides 6 to 8 months of soul searching for us society-ridden human beings. Through discovering your intuition without the distraction of empiricism, you’ll find the chance to become truly self-reliant and independent. While yes, some will question why they should abandon their lives and just “check out” for such a long period of time, and my answer to you is this: questioning how you can leave the life society is forcing you to live, is precisely the reason why you must go.
So many people spend their lives talking about things they want to do and plan to do and never actually get around to doing any of it. Right now we are in our primes and have all the opportunity in the world to fulfill every last one of our dreams. However, it’s hard to follow your passions when you haven’t done enough self-discovery to realize what those passions are (and no, institutionalized public school does not help you find your passions). Although this endeavor is no easy feat, it is one that cannot be delayed. It’s time to put your life on hold to live life.
Read my next post for a guide to how to make this journey possible.