Matt Niswonger

(Written for the print edition of Adventure Sports Journal)

The Power of Right Now

As we go to press we have learned that Vietnamese peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh has passed away. He was 95. He is known as the “father of mindfulness.” This is a great loss to the world, but the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh will live on. His philosophy of mindfulness works with any religion or faith tradition. While it is true that Thich Nhat Hanh was a Buddhist, his practical approach to daily life can be taken at face value. His wisdom aligns perfectly with anyone who cares about reducing suffering and increasing happiness.

Thich Nhat Hanh 1926-2022 (AP Photo, File)

Thich Nhat Hanh said that we humans are endlessly striving — after love, wealth, happiness, enlightenment, whatever. This tendency to always be striving causes great suffering.

I see this in the digital age. Because of social media we are not living our life; we are striving to show others a digital version of our life. Nature pulls us into the present moment. Then our phone vibrates and demands we look at it. The moment is lost. Nature fades and striving takes over.

When we started Adventure Sports Journal in 2001 our goal was to document and inspire the practice of outdoor adventure in California. This seemed like a noble goal at the time. Little did we know that Facebook and Instagram would change everything. Little did we know the virtual world was quickly becoming more important than the real world.

For many years we tried harder and harder to keep up. In addition to the printed version of ASJ we built a website. Then we had to have a Facebook page. Then it was Instagram. We were tagging and hashtagging and boosting and promoting. Soon we were exhausted. The digital treadmill was getting us nowhere.

Thich Nhat Hanh taught that the present moment is our only chance at happiness. Everything else is just striving.

Here at Adventure Sports Journal we are tired of striving. We don’t like having to play the digital game. We are a humble outdoor magazine.

We are passionate about words and photos on printed paper. We love seeing ads in our pages from companies who support us. These ads don’t track you. These ads won’t stalk you. They are just here, in the moment.

These are words on printed paper. The future is a concept. These are words on printed paper. The past is a concept. These are words on printed paper. Life is right now. Liberation is only possible right now. That’s what we believe. That’s what Thich Nhat Hanh stood for.

We are tired of the harm social media platforms have caused. We recommend you get off your phone and go outside. Grab your skis, grab your bike, grab your surfboard, grab your running shoes, grab your backpack. Clear your mind. Breathe.

Take a hammer and pound a nail right through the center of your smartphone. As you crush your phone into tiny bits, repeat after me: “Screw you Mark Zuckerberg. Screw you corporate media.” Ok, don’t actually do that. I’m just being dramatic to make a point.

Digital striving causes suffering. Outdoor adventure with friends is part of the cure.

Thank you Thich Nhat Hanh for teaching us the power of mindfulness. Less is more. Simpler is better.

I hope your ideas spread like wildfire and change the world before it is too late.

RIP Thich Nhat Hanh 1926-2022

— Matt Niswonger

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