To deprive yourself of something goes against our fundamental human instincts. We are created to satiate and fill our bodies and minds with stimuli that create fulfilling sensations. Whether that is having your stomach full with food, having your ears filled with noise, having your mind filled with thoughts, distractions, and anything to distract from just being. Yet, the very essence of hiking, especially thru-hiking, is to deprive yourself of many of these creature comforts. To deprive yourself of instinctual satisfaction. A bear doesn't withhold its need to hibernate, it doesn't tell itself, "well if I withheld for another week or two, I would really enjoy the sleep that much more." A bird doesn't postpone its migration patterns because the fruit would be that much sweeter if they just withheld a little longer. A fish doesn't consciously leap into a boat, to experience a withdraw from breathing, to go back into the water to experience higher levels of relief and satisfaction. No other animals consciously chose to deprive themselves for satisfaction besides humans. So why do we do it?
Sometimes deprivation even comes in the form of consumption...
Here we were deprived of comfort, joy, and lack of pain while consuming the sweatiest block of cheese we have ever had the grace of "eating." Eating is a very loose word here...
Well one of the reasons could be we have the conscious thought and choice to do so. We are all just one giant paradoxical puzzle. By realizing we receive satisfaction and joy from indulging in the food, activities, thoughts that we enjoy, we at the same time realize there is difficulty to not consume. This leads us into waters that there are no depths. A philosophical pool of the mind that cannot be explained, unless you were a philosopher or psychologist, by which we have no claim.
Clinging to the delayed gratification we believe that the consumption will be that much sweeter. The consumption of our favorite food. The consumption of our favorite activity. The consumption of our favorite daydream. By delaying we are ripening the fruit of our souls. For what reason and what end when there is already enjoyment and fulfillment to be had in the immediate, the now?
A thru-hike deprives you everyday of creature comforts. It deprives you of warmth when its cold. It deprives you of a welcoming chill when it's sweltering. It deprives you of a full stomach when you are starving. It deprives you of a home when you need shelter. It deprives you of comfort when you experience pain. It deprives you of camaraderie when you are alone. It deprives you of a family when you are always a child. It deprives you of joy when you experience grief. It deprives you of a life when you are living. It deprives you, but fills you completely.
Sometimes the trail even deprives you of trail... Is that a deprivation or a fulfillment?
Right now you are asking,
"What in the **** does that mean you paradoxical Picasso, ElevenSkys?!"
In all honesty, we wish we could answer you without another paradox, yet all we know is this labyrinth of mazes we call our own mind, we ourselves do not know fully the answer. The best we can tell you is that inside of deprivation there is a love unlike any we have known before.
Love for ourselves, love for others, love for life. By choosing to deprive ourselves year after year, mile after mile, trail after trail, we are making the hypothetical berry that much sweeter. We are returning to a child like glee for the mundane, the common, the everyday, that we cherish. We spend minutes being lost in the wonder of a simple conversation with another without the need to be anywhere besides in that moment. We spend hours marveling at the simple act of drinking water from a tap without the need to filter. We spend days satiating our inner appetites' of the nutrients that were withheld for so long... well if you call cramming your face with cookies nutrients, then yes that is what we are doing. We spend months seeing the intricacies of life as each moment is special and a gift outside of pain, ache, and struggle. We love the boring, we love the dull, we love the repetitive, because well for us there is a magic inside of each.
You realize through deprivation that the superficial needs are striped away. To deprive is not to lose. To deprive is to chose. Chose what makes you the happiest, what fulfills you the most. and chose what you wish to be in this life. Do you hold onto the tangible, or is your love found in the intangible? The emotions and feelings that only grow through deprivation.
Deprivation gives you the opportunity to get see a different way of thinking.
Everyone is a gift, when the joy and love is in the moment and the appreciation for another.
To chose deprivation for us means to love fully and love deeply. Not a superficial word nor thought, but a deep appreciation and joy found in the simple. Inside of simplicity lays a world of complexity if we but wish to unpack it.
Take a moment and look around you. If you are at a coffee shop, smell the aromatic beans percolating and think about how simple it is for you to get a cup of coffee, but the infinite combinations it takes for that to be possible. A farmer has to pick the beans, package them, ship them. The coffee shop has to select the right brew, has to have the right equipment, has to know the best procedure to make the best cup of coffee, and only then does something so simple as picking up a cup become a colorful world. Intricacies lay everywhere throughout our life when we but take the time to see them and appreciate them.
We used a coffee shop as an example, but it truly is infinite, each experience can become flavorful. Through deprivation we have learned to appreciate these moments, and it has truly led us to a fuller life. Where connection and love for a moment, another, life can be found in every second.
So, why do we chose to deprive ourselves year after year? Well, the answer cannot be any clearer. To deprive is to love.
P:S: Last week we came out with a very weird and fun article, so this week we thought it would be nice to change the pace with a philosophical train of thought that continues to swirl around our own heads, what does it make you think of?
P:S:S: Our newest episode of the "Off Trail" podcast is now live with the one and only, Bart Smith. The only person to have hiked all 11 National Scenic Trails AND all 19 National Historic Trails. Give it a listen wherever you get your podcasts!