This past week could be defined as the most intense week of our trip; at least in terms of being in the wilderness for an extended period of time with little access to resources, and days without seeing any signs of a city. We had looked forward to this time — to all of the magnificent views and experiences it would bring. And, of course, it was BEAUTIFUL. We hadn’t been immersed in so much nature, so many incredible landscapes, one after the other, ever. It was a true treat to be under the stars each night, and to have the opportunity to adventure around so many parks consecutively.
Although it was a little annoying, it was fun to face the challenge of stopping at gas stations twice a day to refill our bags of ice in an attempt to keep our coolers cold enough to allow our fresh fruits and veggies a chance not to spoil. And it was truly exhilarating when we stumbled upon a gem in the middle of it all — the incredible natural foods store, Escalante Mercantile, that we found in the middle of our drive from Bryce to Capitol Reef. We had to rely on each other to make the most out of every situation, and we were the only ones who could empathize with each other when things got tough. And they did get tough.
One of the biggest challenges this week was feeling so secluded from everything and everyone. We are so used to being surrounded by a community in Portland. Our community is full of kind people who enjoy connecting over home-cooked meals and game nights. And, in addition to the people, we are also accustomed to being in a city that is constantly bustling with life — in energy and in action. To be out in the wilderness, driving late at night to a campground that was full of unknowns, with only each other to rely on, was so hard!
We fought more this week than we ever do. We were both pushed to our limits with frigid nights that stole our sleep, and the pressure to keep up with our park plans even when we were exhausted. Our usual caring and gentle natures were overtaken by easily irritable personas. And that’s when our egos said things like, “Maybe this is why newlywed couples don’t take 3 month road trips together. Maybe it is too much.”
But everything changed when we arrived in Denver. All of a sudden, once we were back in the safety and comfort of a big city, where we knew all of our needs would be met, things shifted. Once we were in the home of a dear friend, comfortably eating a healthful meal together, we felt different. There was an automatic softening; the gentleness that we had forgotten was suddenly extremely apparent. All it took was a feeling of home. As soon as we weren’t so focused on meeting our basic needs, as soon as we weren’t worried about having to set up our tent in the dark in the middle of a thunderstorm, as soon as we were in the arms of a close friend, eating homemade bread, things automatically improved.
And so we started thinking...
No wonder so many people have unhealthy relationships. No wonder so many people are so unhappy in their partnerships. Because so many of us are constantly overwhelmed by the stress of meeting our basic needs.
How can we address this as a community? How can we support each other so that more of us can be in situations where our needs are met? And if more of us have the privilege of not worrying about those basic needs, how will our world shift? Will there be more love, more kindness, more gentleness?
Are your basic needs met? Is there an area of your life that causes you stress and takes you away from feeling peace in your everyday life? Do you have a physical or emotional place or state of being that feels like home? And if not, can you cultivate that for yourself so that you do?
This week was challenging. And we are so thankful for that. Because it is through challenges that we grow. It is through individual struggle, and struggles in our relationship, that we reach deeper levels of understanding. When we move through hardships, we choose to grow together instead of apart.