The Undiscovered Place

December 20, 2023

2/21 2:40:37 UTC

Welcome to the winter solstice, the astronomical turning point, the darkest day of the year, and the moment when we turn towards the sun to embrace the return of light and warmth. As a celebration of death and rebirth, it’s also an occasion to reflect on the nature of time itself.

Early in our journey as an outdoor brand, we marveled that a road trip to a remote, undiscovered place like Patagonia no longer seemed aspirational to us and our friends. “The undiscovered place is just the time,” we mused, “the time to do nothing, to connect with nature & each other.” We heard the same from many of you in our Community Understanding Project, when you shared your own stories of the different sense of time that the pandemic afforded and your desire not to return to previous lives-as-usual on the hedonic treadmill.

Reinforcing our perspective, best-selling author Jenny Odell recently moved on from her criticism of the attention economy, as blurbed by Cory Doctorow, “Your chaotic, fraught internal weather isn’t an accident: it’s a business model, and while thoughtful resistance isn’t ‘productive,’ it’s utterly necessary.”  In her subsequent best-seller, Saving Time, she turns away from critiquing business models and toward a wider systemic critique of late-stage capitalism — specifically as manifest in hustle & bootstrapper culture, productivity bros, and the wellness industry.

Land art by Walter Mason & Andy Goldsworthy

Odell proposes the following: 

  • On a structural level, collective changes must be made to distribute time fairly and equally — regardless of external factors like gender, race, or economic status.
  • On a community level, it’s important to remember that although everyone experiences time differently, we aren’t alone in our worries —especially regarding the future. In other words, we can find solace in solidarity, something heavily romanced in popular culture in everything from Severance to the Bear. 
  • On a personal level, we can each work to change how we perceive time. By accepting that time isn’t something to be measured but something to be experienced, we can relinquish control and just be.

Ultimately, our most significant concern shouldn’t be to live longer and do more — or even to discover someplace no human has been and “conquer” or “claim it.” The ultimate goal is be more alive in each moment we’re given, and that’s our winter solstice wish for you!