Exercise muscles, not emotions….

Two weeks into January, 2021.

So, my friends, I find myself here exactly one year later, so much for good intentions.

When I began a WordPress page I had lofty intentions of writing often, in a candid manner, about things that both delight and dismay me. That was out in the Wayback Machine – 2013 I believe! Do you remember those days? Social interaction and communication had a much different feel and look to it before Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, texting on our phones; we still felt a sense of duty to write actual letters to each other, to think about communication as a thoughtful process, and to want to share our ideals in a mannered and appropriate way, both as a way of understanding our own inclinations, and inviting others to know us.

I admit to always being a bit conflicted about sitting down here and putting thoughts to a page. My conflict arises due to the fact this platform is attached to a business page, as our rural home is also a destination for travellers, and writing a public journal that usually turns to my personal musings on society and environment certainly comes with the caveat that people who do not know me, or may dislike my opinions, may be reading my words.

What I’ve chosen to write about doesn’t really have much to do with the day-to-day operation of Bellevue Valley Lodge. However, I need to remind myself that we began this venture in 1984 to share our ideals, to support and create new opportunities for recreation, and to gain protection and interest for perpetuation of those types of landscapes that are needed for people to continue to enjoy those choices of activities. It was a long-range play. And now in this new age of vulnerability, writing is perhaps the best service I can do for myself, in the process of making sense of how to continue to support that work. I am engaged today in figuring out if this still matters, and if it is only my idealism that tells me it should. It has been a long-range play in our goal of educating and connecting with people, and sharing values for protecting the resources needed for those values. A framework is only as strong as the many supports that uphold it, right?

The shortcuts that are now available to satisfy our need for action and connection to people – those Facebook posts of expression or indignation, those instant groups of like-minded folks, Instagram pics of a moment of fleeting joy, or a quick text of fun to a friend…have all replaced anything we can write out in a thoughtful letter, or express in a longer conversation. Our ability to interact on the civic or political stage, in a thoughtful and democratic manner has been usurped by trite memes. We send a shrug, or a smiley face, or a cute meme when we want to object, support or comfort. Sometimes our closest confidantes are people we have never met in person. In the same level of supposed expediency we can Google our answers instead of researching, or feel encouraged to express opinions as truths, just by saying it louder and with more conviction than the next sound bite. No accountability for showing our work, and no encouragement to be part of a solution other than expressing a “yay” or “nay” opinion. We have become guilty of supplanting our power to affect change by sending emoticons to parliament instead of petitions.

All these now accepted social media “shortcuts” work on a certain addictive aspect of human nature, one well-known to advertisers. That addiction is the three-second interval of emotional time, where what you see or read will bring your amygdala, or emotional/irrational brain, to express immediate response. It happens in advance of any input from the “rational” brain. Coined the “amygdala hijack”, this refers to a personal, emotional response that is immediate, overwhelming, and out of measure with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional event. If this event is negative, our limbic brain rules our reactions without benefit of reason or logic, and our systemic body can be triggered to a “fight or flight” response. Of course most of the emotional events we seek stimulate pleasure, and that moment of intense appreciative awareness or joy is the advertiser’s Mecca, the addictive quality that keeps us scrolling Facebook, or flipping the Insta photos. We become satiated with the activity but always want more…. without ever having done anything worthwhile to be happy about. We share posts to show our alliances, our joys, or outrage, or opposition, and think we have changed the world. All we have done is feed that limbic reptile brain. Then lazy again until another tasty fly comes along.

How does that tasty snippet of intense satisfaction, that junky brain food, line up with the previous long-range play of the satisfaction of project building, or appreciation for discussion and communication of our values and alliances? Rather like the difference between watching a ski video, and actually skiing. The satisfaction should be in the doing, the adrenal response should feed muscles, not emotions. Life itself is a long range game. We need to savour it and slow down those hijackings and find real satisfaction in communication and building. Creating a niche tourism business based on appreciation for backcountry skiing and healthy outdoor activity is about as long range as you can get. I need to believe it has value, and leaves a legacy of some sort. The satisfaction is all in the doing, in the showing of the work, the encouragement of sharing a passion with others and heartfelt appreciation of the community you build, not your personal allegiance to forcing an ideology.

To be continued …… quite possibly in 2022. No promises this year! Please stay safe, stay kind, and communicate with all your senses, especially the rational ones. Take time for the slow responses. Sometimes all the important rewards are just waiting for a receptive space to come out and show themselves.

xo Robin

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