In this age of air conditioning and digital screens, the great outdoors has perhaps never been so equally idealized and avoided. While on one hand we are more than happy to ‘like’ aesthetic pictures of influencers taking a hike in the mountains from the comfort of our couch, most of us would eagerly avoid having to suffer from aching feet and sunburns.
However, it might be worth it to consider changing that attitude. The outdoors may not be all glitz and glamping, but interacting with nature is in fact able to teach us valuable lessons. Furthermore, it’s easier than ever to get the equipment to participate in a variety of outdoor sports. Whether through a tactical subscription box, or googling a specialty shop or even just using Amazon, the technological age eases the way for us to try new experiences and to rediscover valuable teachings from nature.
Bouldering – Follow The Chalk Marks
Bouldering is basically rock climbing’s daredevil cousin. It involves the scaling of a large boulder or rock surface…but without the benefits of a harness. This sport is clearly recognized as a feat in it’s own right as is one of the components of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics sport climbing event. Climbers primarily have to develop good core and upper body strength since that’s their only means of supporting themselves against gravity while making their way across the course.
One of the trademark features of bouldering is that (much like gymnastics) climbers cover their palms with chalk to prevent sweat from affecting their grip. This means that if you visit bouldering sites, it’s common to see streaks of chalk across the rock surface. Each streak of chalk marks a handhold that someone has managed to grab onto.
While most sports have at least some training aspect which includes watching old matches to learn from mistakes or to learn new strategies, bouldering takes this to another level. When an experienced climber looks upon the chalk marks on the boulder, what they see are possible pathways that they may be able to take. If a person suddenly gets distracted in the middle of a climb, the chalk marks help them to regain their bearings and help them to problem-solve.
Bouldering teaches us the important lesson that sometimes, rather than trying to constantly rack our heads for new and innovative solutions to problems, it pays off to simply take a moment to observe what has already been done. It reminds us that when we get stuck, there’s nothing wrong with seeing what others have done in our same situation and how they handled it. Most importantly, looking at that chalk covered rock face, we are reminded that no matter the difficulties we face, we aren’t alone and others have climbed this path before and found ways to succeed.
Hunting – Work With Nature; Not Against It
There’s a hunting saying by K.J. Parker that goes: To hunt successfully, you must know your ground, your pack and your quarry.
While many of us squirm at the idea of taking an animal’s life and some of us may even view the idea of hunting as something that has no place in our tidy 21st Century sensibilities, hunting (if done responsibly) is ultimately a tribute to nature. Responsible hunters are often all too aware of their place on the food chain and the immense power that blades, guns and snares give them in disrupting the delicate ecosystem they are taking from.
Hunters often require in-depth knowledge not only of where they can find prey in their local stomping grounds but also of how that prey behaves and the way they interact with their surroundings. As such, if one spends time with a hunter watching their thought process, one would realize that a surprising amount of meticulous planning goes into creating a situation where the prey unknowingly stumbles into a trap.
Most of the plans however, center around the central idea of: how can I manipulate my prey’s behavior so that they come to me? In order to do this, the hunter has to be willing to essentially meet their prey in the middle. They have to use the natural instincts of the animal, the resources they have available and the environment around them to craft such situations.
As such, one of the most valuable things you can learn from learning to hunt and developing a hunter’s mindset is a sense of innate resourcefulness. Just as a hunter has to thoroughly study his prey and the environment if he hopes to be successful, one should also take the time to meticulously research your opponents and your available resources in order to best decide how to utilize them. Hunting reminds us that it’s usually a good idea not to rush headfirst into problem-solving but instead to step back and carefully assess a situation before proceeding.
Can’t you do these things without having to subject yourself to the elements?
Arguably yes you could. You could simply learn bouldering indoors or play a hunting simulation. However, doing these sports outdoors provides an additional layer of challenge due to the unpredictability of Mother Nature and forces us to push ourselves and never get too comfortable. Furthermore, we are also instilled with a better sense of respect for the environment as we are able to better observe our impact on it.