Recently, I found myself in a local Western wear retailer, standing in front of a mountain of denim, pondering the difference between bootcut, tapered and straight leg; low, mid, natural, and ultra-low rise; straight, semi-curvy, and curvy cut jeans.
I was planning for a five-day, ladies horse packing trip into the Cloud Peak Wilderness, and I didn’t own a single pair of riding jeans. Keep in mind, I am an outdoor clothing expert, therefore I’m accustomed to knowing the lingo when it comes to shopping for specialized clothing.
In this case however, I was drastically out of my league. Length was the easy part, I obviously needed an extra-long, or maybe even an extra-extra-long. As for the rest of it, I spent a good 45 minutes using the trial and error approach.
In the end, I walked out, exhausted, with two new pair of jeans, (size 8, extra-long, straight leg, mid-rise, straight cut) which filled me with excitement to embark on at least packing for my trip.
The reticence with which I approached shopping for riding-jeans was far outweighed by the extreme anxiety I had built around going on this trip in general.
My list was long: I haven’t been on a horse in five years, and now you (Trudy, my boss) want me to ride 40 miles over a five-day period, all the while being cheery and chatty? I am going with a group of women whom I barely know, and whose average age is at least 20 years my senior. And, I will have just finished a three-day stint camping in the wilderness with 18 teenagers. The last thing I’ll want to do is jump on a horse and spend five more days completely disconnected from everything.
But, the time came, and I confidently mounted my trusty dude steed, Ichabod, fell into line, and into the wilds we ventured.
It’s ironic that often times the things we foolishly dread in life are exactly what we need most.
Extended solitude and separation from the world are amazing things. Yes, I recognize that I just referred to five days as “extended,” but in our fast-paced, high-pressure, fully digital world, five days can make all the difference.
In reflecting on the extraordinary opportunity I was given, to ground down, unattach from work and my hectic summer day-to-day, fully settle into the quietness and separation, regroup, genuinely connect with seven other women, and even fish by myself (for the first time in nearly a decade), it occurs to me that those five days were perhaps the most wisely spent of my entire season.
I implore you, if presented with a similar interruption, as inconvenient as it may seem, graciously allow yourself the experience.
If you’re open to them, solitude and separation will grant you deep connection in the end.
Did I mention that I donned my exquisite Reata Brannaman SunBody hat for the duration of the trip?
The right jeans AND the right hat may very well make the cowgirl. Now, someday I just need to figure out what booty-up, no-gap, rock 47, premium patch, fashion design and flap all mean.
Julie Davidson is the director of the Learn Outdoors Program at Sheridan College.