I recently had the opportunity to travel through the backcountry of New Zealand with 10 of the gassiest, funniest, most genuine group of individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. We climbed the mountains, got lost in the valleys, and got (very) stuck in the thick stuff in between. We saw oceans form from rivers, braved “hurricane season” again and again, and never stopped believing that perhaps there would be another marker nailed to a tree to show us the way. Some mornings we built snowmen, then swam the rivers in the afternoons. We became every sort of people out there: forest-people, hiking-people, mountain-people, tent-people. There were sunny days and snowy days, easy days and hard. There were up days and down days and days spent going around mountains that felt as though they would never end. And there were perhaps more strange foot issues than I have ever thought I’d see in my lifetime.
But there was also real-ness, pure and simple; an affinity for laughter and music, and a curiosity for each other’s stories that permeated the day to day and made every moment magic. This group was at both times extraordinary and extraordinarily strange. But they’ve also taught me much.
This is what I’ve learned out here in the real world with the Boys of Staunch (and Stench).
- There’s always time for a good heart to heart. Communication (station) can be the key to survival in a crazy world
- Dance like nobody’s watching, even if you have to move to the back row.
- Keep your sense of wonder. Your past is your past, but this world can still be a wonderful place. And you can always change your future.
- Nobody ever feels bad after a good hug
- Mullets happen. You have to make big leaps sometimes. Embrace them, own them. Maybe you’ll even inspire others to do the same.
- Passion can be found in many different things – a sports team or a musical band perhaps. If you’re lucky enough to find it, cherish it. It can bring you back from some pretty dark places.
- There’s always time for simple games and play, even “Moon I Win” at 4:30 in the morning.
- You don’t need a big beard to make a big impact on the world
- The ‘shwack is strong, but we are stronger
- Love can be found in the unlikeliest of places, like on opposite sides of a pooping tree, or in a perfectly spherical rock named ‘Lucy.’
- Never underestimate the power of a good song, or gas, to keep things moving on trail
- When things seem impossible and the stakes are high, it always helps to slow down and ask yourself, “what would Ben do?”
- Remember, no matter how slippery the slope gets, butt-sliding is always an option
- There are no failures in life. Some ‘X’s’ just take longer to get to. But you have to keep walking to get there.
- Never stop asking questions. Every break can still be filled with learning, and those are never wasted moments.
- There’s a place for everybody in this world…find out where you thrive.
- We all need somebody to lean on.
These are lessons learned from the boys (and girl) of NZF-3. Lessons that, I know, will stick with me through the highest highs and the lowest lows. It’s a crazy world out there, with endless complexities to get lost in. As you navigate the chaos I wish for you the same things that I’ve discovered out here. May we all know those beautiful weirdos in life who remind us of the simple things that really matter.