This is a short draft written for #NatureWritingChallenge, a weekly exercise to spend an hour writing about a specific topic about the outdoors, then participating in a twitter chat with the other participants.
This week’s topic is the title of this post; though as it turned out, this post is less about #optoutside on Black Friday specifically and maybe more about choosing a life that opts outside regularly. Either way, I think you’ll get my point.
I’ve intentionally abandoned the frantic crowds of Black Friday since 1999, when I first ran across Adbusters.org’s Buy Nothing Day campaign back in college. I’ve since skipped all the crazy sales on all on the crap I really don’t need, choosing instead to either travel during Thanksgiving weekend, spend the day outside recreating, or attending the biennial Territorial Cup game when it’s played at Sun Devil Stadium.
For me, #optoutside wasn’t a new idea—it was just REI finally promoting what a bunch of us had already been doing. If you haven’t been opting outside on Black Fridays, here’s a short list of why you should change that this year.
1. They’re YOUR public lands
No need to buy a damn thing—you already own them!
And they’re among the most amazing places in the world. Spend as much time as you can enjoying them.
2. Memorable experiences > crap you bought on sale
You probably don’t need that thing, anyway. And your family would probably enjoy something a bit more personal as a gift, too, don’t you think? When you’re old and gray, the last thing you’ll remember or care about is that cheap TV you bought on Black Friday. Instead, you’ll remember the things you did and the experiences you had. That day you brought your niece to that cool waterfall and she played in the pool at its base. Or the great sunset you enjoyed during that scenic drive with your girlfriend.
Products become obsolete and worthless, but a funny thing happens with memories—as time passes, your brain remembers them as being even better than they seemed at the time. Memories gain value over time, so they’re a much better investment.
3. Hyper-consumerism blows
When you focus too intensely on what you own, you forget what’s actually important in life. When your self-worth is derived from what you’ve bought, you rob yourself of the uniqueness that makes you you.
Worse is that you’ll never gain any lasting satisfaction by buying stuff. You might get a temporary bump in satisfaction, but there will always be something “better” that comes out that you’ll need to buy to feel the same level of personal worthiness. That’s an awful treadmill to climb onto.
4. The outdoors is good for you
You probably already know this. Yes, you get some exercise. Yes, it’s far better than sitting on the couch or endlessly scrolling through facebook. And yes, it’ll also help you relax and reduce stress.
But beyond those things, it’s also great for deepening relationships. For being present in the moment. Or for new experiences. For contemplation. Or finding common ground. For sharing new places with people you love. Or making new friends.
Basically, for all the things your soul craves.
5. Minimalism & intentionality are sexy
The four most important things you own are your time, your attention, your attitude, and your health. Those four things are the currency of life.
All the stuff you own requires you to spend that currency—you spend your time to make money to buy the stuff, then do the same again to pay to store it somewhere, and then it requires more of your time and attention to manage and use it. We don’t think about it very often, but the cost for our stuff can be a lot higher than you’d expect.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy anything, ever—I’m just saying that you should carefully and deliberately consider what things you decide to own. Maybe you don’t need a need new 4k TV because you’d rather save that money to travel, or maybe you don’t need to spend as much of your limited time consuming content from it.
The point here isn’t to shame you into a life of owning nothing or to be overly preachy. It’s just to have the conversation with yourself about what you really want and what things should earn your attention. Being intentional and deliberate with your life helps ensure that you’re living the life you actually want, as opposed to the one that so many people seem to just default their way into.
Being present and intentional in life? Well, that’s sexy af.
Well then, fuck it—just #optoutside for the ‘Gram instead.