We were naked in the out door bath after a great hike in Hokkaido (hike pictures). The hot spring was on the shore of an enormous and ancient crater lake overlooked by our goal, now completed:
There is something very masculine about looking up at the peak you climbed while standing naked in hot water outside. 5ft away from the outdoor bath was the lake, cold, pristine, and inviting.
No one was swimming. Understand that Japanese hot springs are have a fairly strong unspoken code of behavior, but swimming in adjacent lakes isn’t covered…Papa (The Lady Friend’s) was sitting on the shore with one foot in. I took this as enough and edged my way in. Thighs…no one complaining…waist….no one complaining…shoulders…that’s when I heard it, ‘ah, he’s energetic!’ (元気だね).
A group of middle aged men were laughing. This, in Japan, could either be hearty admiration or patronizing admonishment. Papa looked unconformable, but the water felt so good. Fresh, cold, natural. In I went, head underwater, eyes open, and a blue in 100 shades, deep, bright, and expansive, welcomed me. With open arms, the lake told me I was in the right place.
I’d never seen anything like it, this blue; surrounded by this, the invigorating cold, and the lack of clothing brought me a primal satisfaction. I tried to explain to Papa; he needed to experience this. But, no. Too cold (re: socially unacceptable). Then a Russian guy took a flying dive off the rocks into the water. This was nice because I was no longer the most energetic (re: socially unacceptable). People left, I swam some more. And finally one brave Japanese soul tested the waters. Foot…calf…screw it-dives in! I was overjoyed.
And then Papa. He needed permission. Not from me, certainly not from the diving Russian, but from other Japanese; thankfully, he got it. He slide in, opened his eyes, saw the blue, and came up breathless. He had never seen anything like it, talked about it all night. Who knew you needed permission to enjoy nature?
One of my weaknesses is waiting for permission (and I’m in good company). Who gives hall passes for thru-hiking the Japanese Alps? Do I need a permission slip to tarp camp above the tree line? And what if I fail, what will people say?
Starting this blog helped; I publicly wrote myself a permission slip and no one said no (not even my mother). I gave myself permission to think big, look at nature with creativity, using ingenuity to enjoy her in new ways, see the opportunity to do things differently and take control of my experience.
What do you need a permission slip for?
- Do you need permission to evangelize lightweight hiking instead of preaching to the choir?
- Do you need permission to ask tough questions of the lightweight community?
- Do you need permission to make the time in your life to really enjoy the outdoors instead of looking at MLD’s website and fantasizing about your adventures?
Those all ring true for me, but what about you: have you ever found yourself waiting for permission to enjoy the outdoors?