Nature can teach us a lot. It taught Brad Scott valuable life lessons, allowing him to turn his life around and set free. It taught him that sometimes, it’s better to surrender to the flow of nature than be a prisoner of societal expectation and rhythms.
As a young man, he had his taste of freedom. The year that followed high school, he spent it living out of his Ford F150 hanging out in climbing spots in and around western North Carolina. But as reality set in, Brad felt like he had to go back to “real life”. He caved into what he thought was expected of him, went to school, married his sweetheart, got a house, started a business in construction.
“My life was, wake up before the sun came up, go until the sun went down, 5-6 days a week and then try to be a weekend warrior. I wanted to paddle, I wanted to climb, I needed a lot more adventure than what I was getting. It’s like I was working 60 hours a week just to try to be off and do the things I wanted to do on the weekend. Then you have the other commitments of life that mount up, it’s not just the work week. You have all the family commitments. There are a lot of social expectations of things that you just got to do. It’s all well and good, but I just want to go and get lost!”
Daily frustrations grew on him and a lot of things progressively started degrading. Life is hard enough as is, when you have no outlet, pressure builds instead of easing off. The 2008 housing market crisis came along and everything changed in the contracting and construction world. Personal relationships were coming apart, troubled family relationships all kind of happened at the same time. Brad needed to act to keep his sanity.
“Life started adding up and I just remembered the happiest times in my life was when everything I owned fit in the bed of the truck, and I was 100% free to come and go as I pleased. The more things I accumulated, the further it took me away from that existence and happiness. A big part of it made me want to get back to that.”
The times that followed were turbulent, Brad had to make hard choices that impacted not only his life but the lives of others and he didn’t make them lightly, but ultimately, he had to go. He sold the company, the house and ended up on his own, searching for himself again.
“The hardest part about it was being able to separate myself from long time personal relationships that prevented me from being in a happy, mentally healthy place in my life. Many of those relationships were life long important relationships that I had to sever in the hopes that one day they may come back, but knowing that they may not. It was evident to me that there was no way for me to move forward with certain relationships in my life thar were constantly going to pull me back. Letting go of those relationships was the hardest thing. You want to talk about shaking up your life? Start by shaking up your relationships. That’s way more than getting rid of some couch and moving into a more minimal living situation.”
One could think he was no further ahead than he was over a decade before, with his life belongings all strapped to his vehicle, but that wouldn’t take into account all the life baggage he was carrying with this time around. He knew of happiness and contentment. He’d met them before and was hoping to find them again, this time in West Virginia. When he moved to Fayetteville, he wanted to enjoy the climbing and the rivers, working in the rafting business during the summers and spend his winters working in a ski destination. Turns out, he never left. While he enjoyed Fayette County’s world class climbing scene, the rivers stole his heart and provided the healing he was looking for.
“My mind doesn’t turn off. There is always something going on in my mind, turning and turning. Sometimes, it gets to be just way too much to handle and the only time I feel like it shuts down and I don’t have to listen to it is when I’m on the water. It quiets my mind. It’s the only time I’m at rest. I’ve always looked for that in different places, it just took many many years, well into my adult life before I realized paddling was the resource that was going to provide that most readily and regularly. When you’re on the water, it’s the only place where you have to surrender to the greater power. You cannot win a fight against the river.To be on the river is release. It means everything to me. I have to paddle, it doesn’t have to be whitewater, it can be SUP, it can be flat water, it can be anything, but ultimately, surrendering to the river is the great experience to me.”
The rivers are at the core of Brad’s revival. He found a place to live where all the adventures he needs are so close, he doesn’t need to try and be a weekend warrior. In Fayetteville, he can be an everyday warrior and that change of life was made possible by those life lessons nature taught him.
“Go with the flow! That statement that people talk about is really about surrender. Surrender to the flow. The flow of the river and the flow of nature is very different from the flow of society and the flow of what man has created and the pace of life that is dictated by dollars and cents and those things. The pace of the river is the pace of the natural world. Tapping into that is a different experience entirely than surrendering to the flow of the 9-5.”
All in all, Brad is a modern warrior. He chose to fight against what others thought his life should be about and instead, made it about what he came to realize was important while he was surrendering to the greater power. Ask him now if he has regrets!