When What We Do Doesn’t Matter

I like to follow a lot of outdoor recreation news and media. I listen to climbing and hiking podcasts, read articles, follow blogs, and watching hours of videos on YouTube and Vimeo. One of the resounding themes that I hear mentioned in interviews and articles is the climber/backpacker/adventurer stating time and again:

“What I do doesn’t matter”

After hearing this mentioned again by others I must say I was taken back a little. In the ego driven, superhuman, gravity/age/gender/possibility defying world out outdoor sports here it was someone admitting for all the world (okay that might be a bit of a stretch) to hear that what do doesn’t really matter.

Do these matter to those who can't appreciate or experience them?

Do these matter to those who can’t appreciate or experience them?


Why would someone completely sweep the rug out from underneath their own feet. Why dismiss the accomplishments of their own passionate driving force. The culmination of years of blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice. All of it laid to waste by five simple words, six if you chose not to use a contraction. What would push someone to make this naked of a confession?

A realization of the unadulterated truth. What we do on the rocks, trails, rivers and mountains means nothing in the grand scheme of life to anyone else but ourselves.

Why is it that we take so seriously and give so much to something that ultimately matters to no one? When will climbing a grade higher ever solve world hunger? Maybe on my out-and-back overnighter I’ll discover a rare plant that when synthesized the pulp of the root cures 95% of cancer. Doubt it. So why do we take to forums and debate the validity of the difficulty of our sports. We dumps loads of time, money, and energy into things that have no baring or positive effect on the majority of the world as a whole.

You can make the argument that charities that sponsor events and raise money do good work that has a lasting impact and I would agree. How often I ask are you doing said events? Was that the goal of climbing 5.12? Of getting in shape to hike 20 miles a day carrying a 30lb pack? Maybe that’s why you got that season lift pass?  Hmmm?

Don’t get the wrong impression here, I’m not on some sanctimoniousness-self-righteous-guilt distributing-soapbox rant. Actually I’m a HUGE fan of outdoor sports and I wonder why more people don’t participate. It does however create that moment of wonder, or asking ourselves why. Why do we do things that don’t really matter. I’d like to answer my own question.

Mississippi River Valley

Because it does matter. It matters to us.

When we are able to free ourselves from the shackles of everyday life and experience and explore the world around us in an exhilarating and tangible way we allow ourselves to grow. We get inspired, we are renewed and refreshed. We think clearer, our creative veins pump the blood of imagination to every cell within our being. We return to the life we left behind with both a longing and a renewed vigor. A desire to do something that does matter to someone other then ourselves.

Whether we create with our minds or with our hands, we return to the life we put on pause. We hit the play button again and we turn the volume on full blast. We reshape the world around us, mold it and form it in a fashion that hopefully others can glean from. We come back to the world a better person, looking to change it into something better. To touch lives in a visceral way, deep down to the center and very core of their being. To give them a piece of what we drank in while we were out adventuring.

As it turns out what doesn’t matter really does matter, just not in the way we might think. When it matters to us, when it changes us, when it touches us we have the responsibility to reform it into something that changes others. What good is a mountain to someone who cannot or does not want to climb it? What about a class 5 rapid? A never ending trail? The solitude of a campsite? Or the deep fresh powder to someone who has never experienced those things? We have, and we do. Every day or weekend, every season of our lives we take a break and step away from what was and we we look forward to what will be. We immerse ourselves in this world; this world that doesn’t matter to anyone but us. If we simply allow it to, it can change us immensely.  We can become a conduit to a world that cannot or will not reach for it. To a people or peoples that will never know the experiences we had. We can make it matter, just in a different way.

Can this become something more?

Can this become something more?

Until next time……Adventure On and Make it Matter.

Categories: Insight | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “When What We Do Doesn’t Matter

  1. Lovely post, Jayson. I grapple with this a lot; sometimes adventuring can feel selfish. But, I think that we should all work to be the best version of ourselves, because that’s how we will be able to have a positive impact on the world around us. And that’s really the point, isn’t it? Challenging myself, whether it’s on rock, or traveling, or whatever… makes me a better person, and helps me to be the best version of myself for those around me. Thank you for putting it into words!

    • Thanks! Adventuring can feel selfish at times and making such a big deal out of something that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things can seem rather ridiculous. However when we realize that we can take this very selfish endeavor that matters only to us and return from it changed and better then it takes on so much more then what it is if it were simply isolated.

  2. I really enjoyed this post, Jayson. Your answer to your own question definitely reflected my own thoughts on the matter. For some of us (I would argue ALL of us), adventuring and spending time outdoors is what we need to be better people. The earth is where we come from, and in our modern society we live so far away from nature. It should be our life force – what fuels us. If we truly tapped into that, I believe we would solve some of these greater world issues. I chose to live in a place (Banff National Park) that continually reconnects me with nature and that attracts others who want the same. When I head into the city, I have a major collision and can hardly wrap my mind around the way we live in urban settings. Of course I recognize that not everyone can live in a national park, or even in a more rural environment. But we definitely all require Mandatory Outdoor Time – if only our government would enforce that. Thanks again for a great post – you’ve got me thinking I might write a reflection on The Campsite.

    • Well Meghan I’m glad I got you thinking! And I’m jealous of your neighborhood I just want to put that out there from the get-go. I know that Banff is certainly on our family’s must see list. Getting outside invigorates us and has so many benefits that I find it difficult to imagine why everyone doesn’t enjoy adventuring and outdoor recreation. I am a little bias though! There is such a greater world out there for us to explore and at times I feel as a community we have a tendency to debate, argue, and sometimes create chaos over matters that aren’t actually that important. We lose sight of why we do what we do; we do it for ourselves to escape from the madness of everyday living. I look forward to reading your reflection and all of your other material.

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment! Adventure On!

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