Marie - Santa Barbara, California
Entered on December 17, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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My backpack is heavy against my weak and tired shoulders. My legs scream with agony as I force one more pounding step against my weary feet. The Alder trees continue to slap me in the face with no hesitation. Yet, as we turn the corner on our hike, the view that stands majestically before me wipes the banter of my pain away. Despite the struggle as we climbed, the view continued to blow my tiny mind away. Not showering for a whole week, only two pairs of underwear and clothes, as well as carrying a 45 pound backpack everyday for fun? Seriously, that does not sound like a summer vacation. I went beyond all my expectations; beyond my physical possibilities and beyond myself.

For one, it was an experience that drastically, but thankfully, grinded me into a humble pile. The trip required me to be self-less in order to be successful. Slowly, my thoughts were changed to those of encouragement for others. My soul was filled and refreshed as we hiked and laughed deliriously together through the muddy steep slopes. It was easy to be whiny and selfish, but it was so much more rewarding to know that the only thing helping us climb the mountain was each other.

Our culture does not seem to value this concept of selflessness too much. Everything involving the media and materialistic items, caters to our selfish desires and wants. We don’t need the ipod, the new jeans and the new car, we just want it. The difference between need and want is becoming the same definition in our culture, which only feeds into the selfish parts of our beings. This path only leads to a more dissatisfied and discontented heart.

Another thing I experienced was the true beauty in simplistic living. I did not drag along all the extra “stuff” in my backpack, physically and symbolically. I had time to reflect on my experience and realize the great amount of joy I received while living on the mountain-top with only necessities to live.

This kind of living is unlike our culture today. We are constantly bombarded by “stuff” and bought into the lie that we need more materials. To see our culture defined by money and materials, saddens my heart when I understand the overflowing joy and peace simplicity can give. To experience something like this just once, makes you realize how simplicity can completely change your standard of contentment.

To stand at the peak of God’s creation with only the necessities to live for that week is an experience nothing can compare to. I lived an experience as high as the mountain top; beautiful and breathtaking at the top, but a struggle to get there. Yet, it is the experience that will always stay with me through the struggles back down the mountain at home, which has shaped me into who I am today.