And, why not? The modern world affords us a million conveniences that mankind developed over centuries to make life a little bit easier. But in our efforts to simplify our everyday tasks, haven't we lost something?
Our ancestors had to fight to survive and thrive. Every day was a gift because every day you had to overcome any number of natural obstacles in order to continue your existence. With the properly planning and knowledge, you might starve to death, or get eaten by a bear, or run out of water, or end up murdered in your sleep due to a particularly violent neighboring tribe.
Without those life and death complexities of survival to deal with, we end up resting on our laurels.
Without struggle and resistance, we fail to gain strength.
Without loss, we forget to appreciate our blessings.
Now of course, this is undoubtedly a first-world problem. There are lot of people on this earth that do have to struggle to survive, and that’s not a good thing. We should all do everything we can to bring comfort and kindness to everyone on this planet.
But for the rest of us, by not having to deal with the types of struggle that were once ubiquitous in our corner of society, we've missed out on some vitally important life lessons.
I was camping recently and it suddenly seemed so obvious--out in the semi-developed wilderness of Death Valley everyone takes liberal advantage headlamps, gas stoves, air mattresses, running water, smartphones, and the nearby market for supplies. All things that make life easy, all things that we want, but nothing that we particularly need.
I'm not saying you aren't allowed to hold on to some comforts in life, we fought long and hard to achieve them. I'm just saying there’s a lot to be gained from giving up a few of them, at least once in awhile. It's when you to give up a little, that you start to gain a lot.
Giving up the headlamp and depending on the moon teaches you just how much you can already see.
Packing away the stove and cooking over your fire teaches you the importance of the simplest things.
Storing and rationing water teaches you to use what you need--and only what you need--instead of living life as a free flow of excess.
Putting the phone in airplane mode strips away the digital distractions and let's you enjoy real life again.
The lessons from a campsite are no different in our modern life. Our everyday reliance on crutches is a choice we make with everything we do. Our over-reliance on comforts leads to ungratefulness and juvenile quibbles. Our over-reliance on comforts has led to water scarcity, oil dependence, and global warming. Our over-reliance on comforts and this finite amount of resources is slowly squeezing out our attempted dominion over this earth.
Get off the crutch and stand up.
Take a few steps forward.
Real life is the grit of the hard ground,
Not a delicately cushioned pillow.
See how real life can feel.