If you have ever had true love for the outdoors, then you are starting off with the right credentials. I was fortunate to grow up in a very outdoorsy family. We would spend as much time as we could out in the woods, climbing trees, up in the mountains, down at the lake. I cannot remember a single one of those days where I was anywhere else but in the moment. I wanted that to be a part of my life again.
On a side note: if you haven’t had a click with nature before, maybe it’s worth taking another peek. If you still don’t take to it, you can at least say to yourself that you gave nature an honest try.
I cannot remember a single one of those days where I was anywhere else but in the moment. I wanted that to be a part of my life again.
As difficult as I found the concept of traveling on my own again (more here), going back to the outdoors, hiking, and camping was a way more organic return. No lists, pluses, or minuses. The moment I made up my mind I wanted to bring this element back into my “new life”, I just threw 3 whatevers in a bag, and I was out the door.
I started off with a couple of short walks around nearby forests, taking the bike out for a short spin. Then tiptoed into slightly longer ventures, a walk that included a dip in the lake or the sea…then I added some sandwiches and snacks…(if you don’t lay out a blanket can you call it a picnic?) And that made me feel progressively better and better each time. No one was currently taking my liberty away, but every time I went out there, I realized how little I was using it. And that encouraged me to use it again, and more often. It felt so empowering that I could have such a wonderful, pleasant moment just sitting on the grass watching ants carry Twix crumbs back to their den all afternoon, all by myself.
As fine as these moments were, I knew the big test was still waiting for me if I was to get back to what I consider the “outdoors life”. Trekking. This is a completely different level. Trekkers are the samurai class of outdoor people. We walk the Earth with heavy packs, much larger than our body frames, filled with cans, foldable pans, tons of more junk, for days, and days, down steep descents that make your ankles crack, and up hills that never end…long after you lose the Google Maps signal…way beyond that… We go to places where if something falls, it doesn’t make a sound. True trekkers will put up a tent under pouring rain, mud, snow, frozen tundra, volcano eruptions…it’s a very bonding venture. You couldn’t possibly be in it together more than this.
Of course, a good 1 out of 8 trekking trips don’t go biblically wrong, and consist of sunny days, birds chirping, bees buzzing, and caterpillars….I have no idea what caterpillars do. Having shared all these moments for years with someone, and now having to take all of this in by myself was…overwhelmingly exquisite.
Ever since I started going off on solo trips into nature again, I started hearing it. Not that it wasn’t there before, but you can hear nature speak a lot better when you don’t say a word for hours…and even better if its days. Nature is a person in itself. Perhaps because it is so huge we don’t see it as a living, breathing, interconnected entity. But it is. When in nature, you are never alone. Some would say, “Yes, but, it’s just you with some hills and trees over there…animals hiding there, and insects flying everywhere…I mean, who cares, right?” Well, yeah….but no. This is missing the point of why you would go out to nature in the first place. Another way of seeing it is from the ant’s, cricket’s, or hill’s perspective. You are walking into their home. You are hearing their domestic sounds, conversations, quarrels, quiet moments, when they go to sleep, when they wake up…you are somewhere else right now. And it’s soooooooooooooo not about you. You play a part in all of this now, so play it.
You are the observer. You see what a passer by doesn’t. You have grass under your feet, a soft breeze all around you, a pleasant soft scent is in the air. Find your place, on a rock, next to a tree, or where you stand. Close your eyes and connect. Yes, just like wi-fi. But with your head. And listen. Nothing here is about you, it’s about the part you are playing in something way bigger. From here on in, you will never be alone in nature ever again.
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