The Importance of Connection
Connection. Connection is something we both need and desire. To be connected to something, wither it be a cause, a group, a movement, or just other people, seems to be a human need. The desire for connection drives our attitudes, our actions, and even our economy. Millions of dollars are spent each year by people seeking connection to things, people, teams, organizations, school, and Churches. If I gave you a million dollars and told you to buy everything you would need to be happy for 1 year alone in your home after a few days alone, you would still be miserable without human connection. I have thought a lot about this human desire for connection lately. This weekend I had time to ponder connections more as I kayaked for days down the Devils River way out in south-west Texas.
The Devils River is considered by many to be one of the most unspoiled rivers in the southwest. Its remote location in the middle of the desert keeps people and livestock from polluting it. Even though the river is over 90 miles long, it flows underground for many parts which lead to crystal clear filtered swimming pools of water when the water resurfaces for the 50 or so miles that can be paddled by kayak.
Last week, I was invited at the last minute to join a group of men on a kayaking trip down this far off river. I have always wanted to kayak this river but its remote location, land access issues, and the time commitment to get there have kept me away. My excitement about finally getting to this remote river was only overshadowed by the fact I was about to go on a multi-day trip with 5 complete strangers I had no prior connection too.
Over the years I have heard stories from friends about how demanding this river can be. Stories are legendary about its remoteness, long portages (areas where the water is so low you have to unload your boat and carry it) and irate landowners who will chase you down for getting out of your boat on their land. Because I knew how demanding a trip like this can be for people who know each other well, I was worried about having never met most of the people in my group. Would we work well together? Would we get on each other’s nerves? Would any of the men try and be the “alpha male” and push the others into making bad decisions? These where my fears as I packed my gear.
Deep down I was also worried about me. My pace of late has been staggering and constant. With the relaunch of our ministry, fundraising, networking, travel and just raising a family, I have been pushing the bounds of my ability to keep up more than I should be. Would I like the guys I was going on this adventure with? Should I go for yet more time away from family? Do I even have enough energy to go? All of these questions banged around in my head as I stuffed my dry bags.
These are similar questions we hear from people before they come on one of our trips. In fact, people often back out of trips at the last minute because of the same fears or concerns. “Will I like the people on my trip?” “Do I have what it takes?” “What if I cannot get along with the others?” “Should I even take this time away from my friends and family? Wouldnt it be more comfortable to do something else?”
Doubt has a way of keeping us from connecting with others by letting our fear overcome the possibility of a new experience.
I almost backed out of the trip but I can say now it would have been a huge mistake. While I arrived in south Texas with complete strangers and doubt, I left days later with great friends and a spring in my step. After paddling, hiking, portaging, and camping over most of the Devils river with complete strangers, I can honestly say it was worth the risk.
The scenery was incredible, the sunsets legendary, and the water pristine but these were not the reasons the trip was so wonderful. The trip was great because of the people, or more specifically what bonded the people.
We have 4 pillars at Wilderness Trek that we say is the cornerstone of every trip we offer. Grow, connect, experience, and challenge. I will go over all four in a later blog post but this trip I was reminded of pillar 2, connect. Every trip we have offers a chance to connect. Everything we do offers a chance to connect with God, connect with others and connect with what God is doing in your life. We believe that when people of faith rally around a cause, that connection with each other and with God, naturally happens. On the surface our cause for this trip may have seemed obvious, kayaking the Devils River, but that was not what connected us. We were connected by our faith, our search to be authentic men, and our desire to discover new things.
People often ask me, “What can I expect from one of your trips?” My answer is simple. “You can expect to grow, connect, experience and challenge your faith. ”
While we have some great adventures and lead some wonderful trips, we do not lead trips simply because we love the outdoors (we do really love the outdoors, however!) We lead trips because we love to help people connect to something bigger than themselves. Nature, which is Gods creation, and people, who are Gods created, beg to be connected together and we just happen to believe the best way to do that is by experiencing nature with other people of faith. For generations, we have led groups of people who kind of know each other on trips that make them lifelong friends. Anyone who has been on a trip with us has a memory of a friend they made on that trip.
At the end of the day, there are many things we can connect to as humans. We can connect to causes, teams, brands, organizations, people, even churches, but the best things we can connect to is our creator and the first creation he made. So go outside. Enjoy. Connect. Better yet, go on a trip and connect with others.