What I Learned Being Disconnected from Life’s Noise
I recently completed a 7-day rafting and hiking trip down the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River.
As I read the information we received about the trip from the outfitter, one item really caught my attention.
There would be no cell phone, internet or contact with the outside world for 7 days.
I wasn’t overly concerned about the rapids and power of the Colorado River, sleeping outside in nature, or hiking Bright Angel Trail the last day. (By the way, that hike was 7.5 miles over 4,200 feet of elevation. I trained for five months for the hike, so I was ready.)
But I was anxious and nervous to be disconnected from the world and my family for 7 days! I was anxious and almost didn’t take the trip because of the fear of being completely disconnected.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I deal with anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Not being able to make a call to my wife, family or close friends created a fear that was close to overwhelming. Fortunately, I have had great counseling, God-given inner strength, and encouragement from my loved ones to fight through my imaginary fears.
So I took the trip. It was a life-changing adventure. I didn’t know that the 7 days of disconnection would teach me more than the rafting, being in nature or the hiking.
(I must admit that the first 24 hours on the river and camping, I kept trying to get a signal on my phone – which never connected.)
By the end of the 7 days, I didn’t want to reconnect with life’s noise, except to connect with my family and close friends. Here’s what I learned:
- Negative noise is consuming us daily. I realized how much negative energy and words I receive every day. Most of what I read in the press and see and hear on TV is negative. I was amazed that by Day 5, I felt so free inside because I had not heard, seen or read one negative item. I felt my body recharging and healing as I heard and saw sounds and images of nature and received positive energy. Now I monitor how much negative noise and energy I allow in my life.
2. Proper preparation and training for a physical endurance event is important. I trained for 5 months for the big hike out the Grand Canyon. The day before the hike, I stretched my calf muscle, heard a pop, and knew I had a problem. The rest of the day, I got in the cold Colorado River to ‘ice’ my calf as much as possible. Because I had trained hard for 5 months and had positive energy around me for 7 days, I was confident I could make the hike even though I was injured.
I prayed before we started the hike, and off we went. I made it to the top with minimum pain in my calf and saw some of the greatest views of nature I had ever seen. When I reached the top, I gave thanks to God for getting all of us safely up the mountain and not letting my injury cause a problem.
I knew there was no other way up the mountain but to hike out. It was too late to rent a mule (yes, that was an alternative), and I was determined to hike out as I had trained to do. I know the positive energy and being disconnected from life’s noise was instrumental in my ability to hike out while slightly injured.
3. It’s important to use time wisely. I have always valued time, but this trip helped me realize how much energy I expended trying to recover the time I lost healing from childhood sexual abuse. I finally realized that the past is gone for good. I can’t get that time back, so I must stop wasting good time chasing lost time.
I went to bed around 9 p.m. every evening and was up by 5:30 a.m. I learned how much more time we have available daily with proper rest and rising early.
The most difficult thing I had to accept about time lost is the damage done to anyone that has been through a trauma like childhood sexual abuse. How much time had I lost asking, “Why me? What would my life be like if it never happened?” How much time had I lost from the anxiety caused by triggers that reminded me of my past? I learned I must keep working to focus on the present and try my best to not let triggers of the past take me backwards.
When our guide said some of the mountains were a billion years old, I knew for sure time keeps going and I need not waste it. I can’t change or recover time and reuse it.
4. Quietness and nature have healing powers. I often sat quietly on my bunk and soaked in the positive energy of God’s handiwork. I felt more refreshed each day just being in the beauty and quiet of nature. I thought about the native people who once roamed the land.
5. I must get outside my comfort zones; challenge myself emotionally, physically and spiritually; and enjoy the journey. After 7 nights of sleeping without a tent and letting the evening air cover my body, watching the sky light up with countless stars, it just confirmed for me that there must be a Supreme Being of the universe. Even though being sexually abused is horrible and traumatic, I am still very blessed with a great life that has given me the ability to make choices, as well as to give and receive love.
As I was carried along daily by the power of the Colorado River, I knew that I really didn’t control my life. I am like the raft. I go where the river of life takes me and try my best to watch for danger. If I fall out of the raft or it flips over, I go with the flow until I reach safety and get back into the raft and keep going.
That’s what life is to me. I will have some rough patches, but I must keep going, soak up the beauty along the way, and pray I can make someone else’s life a little better as I drift by them.