Guilt is a powerful motivator. However, it only works for the short term. After a while we learn to suppress these internal complex emotions and begin muting their voice. Do this! Our conscience screams. Don't do that!! It bellows at us. Either we succumb or learn to ignore. However powerful guilt is it is not very helpful in the immediate nor the long term.
If the purpose of guilt is to ... well, guilt us into action (or non-action) then what ultimately is needed is something more profound and powerful to replace it with. Guilt gnaws at our innards, but what is part of the root of guilt? Love. Or actually non-love. Meaning, we know we should be doing something. While we may lack the courage to do "it" (whatever "it" is) the deeper issue is maybe we don't love "it" as much as we should. You see, love is more than a fleeting emotion, it is ultimately demonstrated by action.
Across the land local trail alliances are rallying the troops on a regular basis to take up arms (or in this case shovels and rakes) and dig. Work on trails. Build. Refine. Smooth. Repair. Maintain. Many of us sit in these meetings and when the clarion call is issued we squirm, hem and haw, check our iPhones to see if we're free on those dig days, acknowledge to ourselves the guilt welling up inside (since we haven't dug as much as we know we should have), and in the end tell ourselves, "I'll try and make it." In The Empire Strikes Back Yoda famously quipped, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” The good news is that Yoda is a fictitious character so even then we can be dismissive of his words.
But they ring true. Do. Or do not. There is no try.
Years ago (not in a galaxy far, far away) I remember on a regular basis heading out onto the trail with a saw and shovel strapped onto my pack. I'd spend countless hours alone digging, shaping, smoothing, and making channels for water to run off to mitigate erosion on the trail. I did it because I cared. I loved those trails (even though I was paid to do this as part of my job). While I didn't have the knowledge of how to create sweeping berms or anything like that I would bathe in the presence of hovering mountains as I cleared low-lying branches that were encroaching the trail or moving rocks around so they were "just right."
I loved those trails. I still do. I'd do anything to keep and maintain them.
Maybe the question before us is really about our love for trails ... or lack thereof. No, that wasn't a sneaky jab to the gut to induce guilt, but more or less a question for a pause ... and then reflection. Do we really love our trails and wild areas that they weave us through? Maybe what we need is to stir up our love for where we ride rather than seeing them as an amenity to be consumed or a commodity to be used.
Words by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager. Photos by Tina Gerber and Ben (Armin) Wurmser.