My Out Life, My Message

TheOutLife began as a way to get people outside.

At its inception it was about the outdoors and being able to immerse oneself in the bonding and beautiful qualities of an unplugged lifestyle yet, recently, I find myself trying to talk about the environment as a whole. The global environment itself is extremely important but it’s stretching myself thin about everything together and attempting to make a change there. I need to focus my efforts. I need to decide where it is my brand truly lies. Environment or outdoors is such a blanket term that I spread my blog posts around seemingly every which way in the hope that something I say or write will mean something to someone and I’ll reach one other person in my life.

I think if you are an outdoorsman, there’s probably a pretty good chance that you care about the environment too. Maybe a person doesn’t see the world environment as a whole but the local environment may be important to them. After all that’s most likely where they hunt and fish and hike and camp so they definitely want to keep that land wild and pure.

As I thought about it more and more, maybe my own goal should be to create outdoorsmen, not strictly environmentalists.

Within every outdoorsman should be a spark of environmentalism and all it takes for a person to fight for the wild is a love for the wild. At least it makes sense in my head.

When I grew up, I learned how to start fires with a magnifying glass and signal with a mirror and build a bow and a lean-to. I learned how to fish and in turn grew to respect them. That desire to constantly be outside in the elements is what directly leads to my environmentally minded life now as I’ve grown older. Before, I knew not what was happening in the Arctic or the elephant tusk black market trade or the deforestation of rainforests because I was more worried about being in my local environment.

With the inception of the current president and his proposed pick for head of the EPA, I have been undergoing a lot of emotional turmoil and worry over what the state of the environment will be after the next four years have come and gone. I feel next to powerless and distraught over what my mind interprets as a disaster because I’m only one person and it appears I’m against the president of the United States. That’s how it feels.

But I’m slowly coming to realize that one person can inspire and lead people to look in a certain direction. So even if I can’t fight now, I can inspire others to want to fight too.

They say if you want to be a good writer “write what you know.”

Know what I realized?

I am an outdoorsman. Let me show you what I know.

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Protect the Arctic Waters

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Recently, President Obama protected nearly all the Arctic Ocean and much of the Atlantic Ocean on the eastern coast of the U.S. against future oil drilling leases in the protected waters. Though this measure does not affect current drilling operations and permits, it will prevent new leases from being created and hopefully protect these areas from the adverse effects of oil drilling. Canada’s own prime minister followed suit and this joint effort to protect the water is a significant stop on oil drilling in the area.

Now, when I see events like this happening in the world I raise a cheer for the wild and am proud of my president to see that he cares and listens to the woes of the environment. But, many times I am caught in the same moment wondering how it really affects me. Beyond moving from foreign oil and other politically driven aspects of oil drilling, I wonder how that single world environment affects my life and livelihood. In the end, I ask, Why should I care?

In pursuit of this question I raised several answers that directly apply to my life and the way I see the world.

One, I now have the opportunity within the next five years, to go see the land myself in a minimally affected state of existence. The waters are generally pristine as of right now due to a few gas companies failing to find oil deposits that are worth the effort of drilling to them. Though there are a few leases on the land, much of it is untouched by the oil machines and thus the and has a significantly lowered danger where oil spills and leaks are concerned. The flora and fauna in the area are bountiful and pure, and the waters have no oil slick or deadly sheen floating on the surface. I care because I have the option, given time and money, to venture out to the waters of the arctic and partake in its unique beauty. With oil rigs and companies unable to make new endeavors, the number of existing leases will lower and lower until perhaps all of these protected waters are safe for a time.

Two, every environment matters. It would be a folly for me to believe only the prairies and Rockies of Colorado deserve the right for environmental safety, when there are many various ecosystems around the world that deserve to be protected. Whether it is at home or abroad, an environmentalist should see all global ecosystems as equal. Just because my current station in life puts me nowhere near the Arctic waters, does not mean that I should take an insular view on event happening there. There are local tribes that rely on the waters, deep water corals that thrive in it, and countless endangered and non-endangered species living in these biodiversity hot-spots. They live, they are wild, and they are part of the environment that I serve to protect.

Three, even if we look only at the commercial fishing industry, it is painfully apparent that over-fishing of our global waters is having a severe impact on aquatic environments around the world. The waters protected now are home to large populations of deep water corrals that are in turn the home and breeding grounds for a large number of commercial fish species such as Rockfish, Atka mackerel, walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific halibut, sablefish, flatfish, and even species of crabs. Deep water corral tends not to build large traditional reefs but pop up in large populations as “mounds.” These mounds take many years to develop and are generally underappreciated in the coral community. Their importance is not to be taken lightly and the protection of the waters by the Obama administration will hopefully protect these sensitive ocean organisms.

As I continued to look and think, I realized that the reason why I care about the arctic waters is because I should. The positive reasons for attempting to protect the arctic biodiversity is not something to be taken lightly, and the incoming president would be wise to come to the same realization.

 

 

Three Reasons to Plant Others Roots in the Outdoors

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“As a man changes his nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.”

In other words, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”- Mahatma Ghandi. In this world and these changing times, this message is growing increasingly more pertinent towards the environmentalists, outdoorsmans, the conservationists, and nature-lovers of all kinds because a love for the wild does nothing if that love is not acted on. By instilling within others that same love we will be inspiring the future wildness protectors and practitioners for generations to come.

Practice what you preach and educate and inspire. Help others plant their roots in the majesty of the outdoors and by doing so you assume the voice of the songbirds and the croaking frogs, the creeping vines and the growing seeds- you employ the voice of the wild. Sometimes, all someone needs is a guiding hand.

The caveat to this is the fact that you cannot replant an already planted tree. Find someone who has roots in the electronics and the gasoline and concrete and show the love to them. It helps no one to preach to a fellow like-minded individual, instead we have to reach out to those that do not yet understand nor enjoy the outdoors. We can and must be the people that show new people what it is love nature.

“Not all who wander are lost.”

Nature lovers are not lost souls and free floating romantics. We are as grounded as anybody and must show that what we believe in is a salient and physical aspect of a healthy life. Tree-hugger sounds like cloud watcher and some undoubtedly view it as a waste of time or a fantasy ideal but it is a powerful way of viewing the forest. Sometimes we miss the trees by looking at the forest and we forget that a single tree has the power to give life and to build life. Nature lovers are not pot smoking hippies but individuals with a deep love for the natural state of the world around them. We do not hike to get lost or escape the world but hike to find ourselves. By teaching other people how to achieve that view of the world, we may just show someone their place in the world.

“The Greatest Threat to our Planet is the Belief that Someone Else Will Save it.”

If you are upset about the melting of ice caps and raising sea levels and the cutting of forests and receding ozone levels.

If you fear human caused smog and acid rain and flooding and drought.

If you fear the land to burn and the wild to hurt and the world to forget its wild roots.

If you fear these things, then you have the power to fight it. Find what you fear the most and change it by fighting for it and believing in it and supporting it because the minute we expect or rely on other people to change what we want to change, the rug may be pulled out from under us. We need everyone we can get to stand up and use that powerful voice we all can use to fix what we need to.

We can only protect the outdoors if we train an army to defend it. We do not and will not fight AGAINST, but FOR.

We can become protectors of the wild lands we love and enjoy.

Sleeping and Dreaming the Outdoors

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I woke at dawn with the rising sun coming up and the bluish hue of light cresting the peaks around me. The gentle whispering of a nearby stream silently brushed my senses awake and I unzipped the tent flap, shaking off droplets of dew onto the ground that spread as if tears of joy had fallen from my eyes. That first cold breath plumed into the chilled sky and I walked through the mist with light steps that still loudly crunched the gravel underfoot. After the heavy and familiar weight of a fishing bag settled onto my shoulders, footsteps began to recede from the sleeping ears of the inhabitants still at camp. The sounds of my own traveling announced by rocks.

Once lake side I watched as an older man who woke up much earlier than I had casted a long way into the lake. The line was a golden thread unspooling in the now warm hue of the world. My eyes trailed the path like my future depended on it and watched the silver sheen of the lure waggle its way through the water.

What a small beauty in this wide world.

The glare from the lake as the sun rose higher and higher into the sky blinded me viciously and suddenly I woke up from my deep slumber in a bed at home. My ply wood and insulation home.

Come to find out, I had been dreaming of my blissful venture into open air and while I rested, my mind sought after the solace of the mountains.

It is comforting to know that whether awake or asleep, nature will always be available to grace my eyes and heal my mind. Nature will always be an option to me.

It’s forever a part of me.

Workspace

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Workspace is important. No matter what someone sits down to do, the atmosphere can make or break the quality of their work because it determines the state of mind someone is in. I believe that fully focusing on something puts a person into a kind of “flow” where movements become almost autonomous. The right kind of environment will put you into that state.

Martial arts practitioners and athletes of all kinds can attest to the fact that when in the throes of the sport, everything slows down. It’s almost like you go deaf for a moment. Thoughts are quick and sharply focused. Movements are muscle memory and reflexes from years of repetition. The mind goes, “I’ll take it from here.” The many times loud and intense atmosphere of sporting events results in an instant release of nerve tensing chemicals that leave a person high strung and twitchy. It’s this state, the state from the environment, that gets a person ready to do great things. Some writers like coffee shops for white noise. The constant flow of irrelevant sounds flow around the writer and lull them to thinking in a full form.

Some writers like total quiet. Immersing themselves within the depths of their mind and letting the hand put thoughts to paper.

Photographers subjects reveal a lot about who they are and how they think as well. The beautiful crystal clear lakes could be a photo from a person who enjoys the lone serenity on the shores of glass.

A person walking through the city street with camera poised could be inspired by the grand quantity of human lives surrounding them. Untold stories they wish to pen. Mysterious people they hope to understand. Or perhaps in themselves they see chaos. Photography lets them control it.

Whatever the state of body you desire, the state of mind comes first. Where? From the state of presence around you.