2-Days in Yosemite Backcountry—Pondering Perception and Freedom

One intriguing aspect of my long term relationship with the Range of Light is how it pulls at me likeIMG_Yos8 a magnet. Most readily when I am in balance, and sometimes when I am feeling weighted down. Experiencing the latter as of late, I took off in the middle of the night on Sunday to Tuolumne Meadows for two days of tough solo hiking in the backcountry and one night of blissful sleep under the stars. I never know what will surface from each foray into the Sierra Range except that I will have wiped the slate clean on unproductive mental grappling, and in position to create what I wish moving forward. This familiar scenario played out, yet this time with an unfamiliar mirror in the mix. Here’s what that looked like:

Wilderness has no requirement of us, it is indifferent to our presence. Yet we are required (or not) to show up knowing how to move and live in this unforgiving environment. What we bring to our experience is our choosing. There is no outside influence to affect how we perceive our experience so we are free to have it be as we wish. As I share in my piece, ‘Painting Your Authentic Self’ in my book Dirty Inspirations, the indifference of nature juxtaposed to having full rein to create our experience there, is the ultimate in human freedom for both men and women. Wilderness = Full Range Freedom.

By chance, the audio book I listened to in the car on my mid-night drive to Yosemite; The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan, over pages of captivating narrative, brings the reader to the ultimate difference between men and women in that country—freedom. Men have much, women have none. Their society views freedom for women as a negative (I’m generalizing but that is the gist). Not because a free woman is necessarily ‘doing’ anything that is negative, but because if she is free to move about as she wishes she is perceived by society as doing something unfavorable. In Afghanistan, human perception, accurate or gravely inaccurate—particularly for women—is the rule of law.

I took these two hugely differing snapshots of freedom with me on my mini-body-push into this pristine wild place I am in love with, and I considered this: As an independent woman dedicating my life to purpose and freedom, were inaccurate perceptions of who I am or what I’m up to relevant to the person I stand for being? If I live responsibly for myself, for those I choose to have in my life, and for those in the communities in which I roam, should others inaccurate perceptions of me carry any weight?

In Afghanistan, the answer is yes. As a western woman in the wild, the answer is—the only perception of self that is relevant is the one I create for myself, in that moment. If I am responsible to who I choose to be, then outside perceptions are not relevant, particularly inaccurate ones. As an American woman I have the freedom to live that out. While amidst the granite and pristine lakes, I got really clear on how fortunate I truly am.

Man or woman, nature can be the conduit to touch base with our true self, again and again. Our country will continue to allow for that type of freedom as long as we continue to take a stand for it—for all. Part of taking that stand is not letting others inaccurate perceptions guide our actions. We get to choose what we let in and what we filter out. Lucky us.

Long MeadowH

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