Fireside Camping

We live in the era of quick fixes and ‘life hacks’. We can Google the answer to any question in a matter of seconds. Advertisements on television tell us that we can achieve happiness with a new car or a luxury coffee-maker. The techno-futurists suggest that we can save ourselves from catastrophic climate change with a few fancy inventions.

Solo Kayaker at Sunset At every turn, there’s someone telling us that enlightenment is just one step away, comfort can be found in a package, happiness will come with our next paycheck.

But what if it takes more than that? What if every quick fix, no matter how profound it is, negates a need that’s deeply embedded into our human souls? A need to sit with our problems, our discomforts, our own thoughts and feelings. A need to explore the rough, unknown terrain of an unexpected and sometimes uncontrollable world. A need to be immersed in something that flows at a slower pace.

The evidence suggests that we humans don’t actually do so well with quick fixes. Lottery jackpot winners are more likely to go broke than your average American. Jack Whittaker, who won a  $315 million powerball jackpot in 2002, actually said “I wish I’d torn that ticket up.”

Likewise, most people who begin a stringent, quick-fix sort of weight-loss diet will fail to see it through. Those who are successful in losing weight will often gain it back, plus some, within a few months.

Perhaps the most widespread and consequential quick fix that we see in our society today is social media technology. Idealists boasted about how social media would make us more connected and efficient. However, those who study the cognitive effects of social media have found that the endless loops of stimulating information and social interaction can have dire consequences for our brains. We can become addicted to the small rewards ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, and lose track of the larger emotive flows of life, leading to depression and anxiety.

Cataract Canyon StarsSo, at Holiday River Expeditions we don’t buy into these kinds of quick fixes. We don’t want to sell you a perfectly packaged, one-size-fits-all river trip that hacks into you some triple-strength, immediate satisfaction so that you can get back to your busy life. We want to give you an experience that will make you question why it is you live such a busy life in the first place. We want to give you an experience that will resonate with you deeply, for a long time to come.

Anyone who has been down the Green or the Colorado knows that it takes more than a few minutes, or even a few hours, to get into the rhythm of red rock, to align with the flow of the river, to integrate into the dry, deliberate ecology of the desert.

As Utah Legend Ken Sanders realized during his river rafting days (when he was often accompanied by Edward Abbey and other wild rebel spirits), it’s on about the third day of a river trip that “an awareness sets in that the river is now your new reality.”

This ‘new reality’ that Ken speaks of is not like the one that you left behind. It’s not dominated by human ingenuity. The sun will rise and beat down upon you in the desert no matter how clever you are, or how much money is in your bank account. A monsoon will not be held back by any app. You cannot ‘hack’ a river.

You must truly go with the flow on a river. There is no other choice.

But it does take time to find our humble place in the river ecosystem. A two to three day ‘adjustment period’, where we don’t have anyone calling or texting us, is absolutely essential. Before we can settle into the grandness of nature, we have to let all of the expectations, stresses, and stimulations of our urban lives slough from our bodies and minds.

Once we get into that new, humble place, the rewards are truly astounding. We begin to notice new details in the rocks, new patterns in the flight of the birds. We are more attuned to smells and sounds. We can read the subtle the movements of the people around us. As University of Utah scientist David Strayer says, “If you can disconnect and experience being in the moment for two or three days, it seems to produce a difference in qualitative thinking.”

This ‘difference in qualitative thinking’ is what Holiday’s river and bike trips are really designed to achieve for our guests. It’s in these states of natural emersion that we find our creative energies enhanced and our spiritual energies refined. We can see the uninterrupted beauty of our lives as they line up with the uninterrupted beauty of the world around us.

You simply cannot get the same experience on a day trip, or even an overnighter. So go ahead and take the extra days off from work, and come on a proper river trip with Holiday. The benefits that you’ll return home with will outweigh anything you’ll miss while you’re gone. We promise.

 

 

Writer Easton SmithEaston Smith is a Local Wasatch Front resident and writer.   He spends his time community organizing, rock-climbing and playin’ some mean banjo.  For more writing from Easton, check out his organizing collective’s blog “Brine Waves” here or stay tuned for future loggings in River Currents.

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