Dancing in the Desert
With the windows down and music up, we raced across what felt like the surface of another planet. We left nothing in our path but the dust we kicked up behind us. Our only destination? Forward, together. We were going nowhere in particular and had nothing keeping us back. So we drove. We squealed like kids with every bump in the road and giggled as our expectations got lost in the dust behind us, the only thing on our agendas suddenly becoming playfulness. We watched with eyes wide as Golden Hour faded, giving way to the coming sunset. The mountains turned purple and the sky lit up in radiant hues of pink and orange… We had just survived another week of Outdoor Retailer and this is how we celebrated.
We spent the first seven days of August in a convention center talking about the outdoors. We walked for what felt like miles, drank unhealthy amounts of coffee, and shared dreams of an industry that’s doing big things. But by the end of it all, we were itching to get back outside again. Somehow, we successfully rallied 26 friends, loaded up 7 cars, and drove into the desert with only a dropped pin as our reference point. Welcome to the first annual post-OR Salt Flats campout.
We ate watermelon and shot BB guns at empty cans. We drove in circles in the dust and sped down dirt roads that weren’t really even roads. We sat in complete silence on the tops of Jeeps as the sun lit up the sky and gave it’s farewell before sinking below the mountains. We cooked tacos at midnight on the tailgate with a kitchen lit by headlamps and celebrated birthdays by singing loudly and off key. We turned on the cars and danced in the headlights to music that wasn’t quite loud enough. We laid in the dirt with our heads on each other’s shoulders and named every shooting star we saw. And we rolled out our sleeping pads and slept under the stars, waking up to the sun on the mountains and covered in an extra layer of dirt. We took our Sunday morning slow, drinking coffee and eating oatmeal. And slowly we all headed our separate ways to chase down our next adventure.
Driving away that Sunday morning I was reminded of something I once heard: The people we get real with are also the ones we have the most fun with... And man, are they right. I think we need trips like this, ones where you’re left with a heart so full you’re afraid it’ll burst. Because more than just creating a great story to tell, these are the trips that remind us of things that are so easy forget:
Every once in awhile sit in true, uninterrupted silence. Put down your camera, take your attention off of your phone, and listen to the sound of a world being forged and created around you. Focus on your heartbeat, on each palpation that is a trophy to remind you that you are alive and that is enough.
Be someone who is quick to fight for unity in a world that is so quick to choose sides. Because at the end of the day, we are all united by the unique experience of being alive.
Surround yourself with people who push you. Doers and visionaries and go-getters who spark your soul and encourage you to stop playing small. Find the people who inspire you to believe better things.
I challenge you to spend nights dancing in the desert and driving with no destination in mind. To laugh hard and give away hugs like they’re going out of style. To sit still for just one minute and really pay attention, and then cheer and chant and howl as loud as you can just because you can. I challenge you to embrace the mess that can be community, and to show up anyways. Lean in and listen. And tell your friends you’re proud of them. You’ll be surprised at the joy you find.