Much of what drives my love of the outdoors is the aspect of self-reliance, the ability to take care of myself in any situation. In this modern world there aren’t many opportunities for a man or woman to prove their self-reliance; if your car is broke you take it to a mechanic, if you have plumbing problems you call a plumber, if you’re hungry, you go to a fast food restaurant or the grocery store. I like to think about the pioneers and the mountain men of the early 1800’s, they set out into pure wilderness and unknown territories and made a life on their own. They had to build their own homes, harvest their own food, fight the elements, and survive on their own. I would give anything to have had the chance to do that, and that is what draws me to the outdoors today, even though I know I can only experience glimpses of that life.
While technology and civilization have taken away the dangers and risks of a life on the frontier, I think that inside of every outdoors person is a yearning for times past. But there isn’t much we can do about that now, other than try to find adventure where we can, and to be as self-reliant as we can in this day and age. I think it is important to have that perspective, rather than just let life drag us along with it. Just because the opportunity of founding a nation is gone doesn’t mean that we all can’t be a little less dependent on others to get by in life.
But being self-reliant is even more than that, it’s about maintaining that pioneering spirit and attitude at the core of everything you do in life, to be able to stand on your own two feet and face whatever obstacles life throws your way. It’s having the confidence to know that if the world fell apart around you, you would have the resources and the knowledge to survive. Beyond the physical aspects, self-reliance is also about the courage to stand behind your beliefs and convictions, not needing validation from others about your thoughts or actions, being at peace with yourself for the person you are. In fact, true self-reliance means you don’t even need the company of others; you are quite content just being by yourself. I don’t mean being anti-social, sure we all like to be around people, but we don’t need it to be happy in life.
While some of what I am saying sounds a bit arrogant or idealistic, the fact is that what self-reliance gives you is really complete liberty and independence in your life. The fact that you don’t need anyone or anything else in your life is a great feeling of confidence and freedom, and those thoughts in your mind will make you a different person in your daily life.
Of course loved ones and family are important in our lives, and when I talk about self-reliance, it includes those people. As for me, I have some family, my children, some good friends, and a dog that is a pain in the ass, but I still love him. I think all of them would tell you that I could take care of them if I had to, and I can.