If I could, I would love getting paid to lay in bed with a book all day. We often joke in my house that in a past life I was either an old baron who had every whim catered to, or I was a dutiful, yet lazy dog. There was a time those comparisons bothered me, but the proof is definitely in the pudding. All I ever want to do is read, eat cereal and sleep – not the best way to go about life all the time, but it’s who I am.
On the other side of the coin is my partner: all tree climbing, hiking, swimming, and dirt. Where I’m a happy (and clean) bookworm, he is a wild man, content to spend his days exploring caves and playing in the water. We are the poster children for opposites attracting. I have a background in sports and exploration, thanks to some cool opportunities, and he isn’t exactly Donnie from The Wild Thornberries ( throwback!), but we still had to meet in the middle when it comes to the great – and mosquito-y- outdoors. Thankfully, that middle ground means I get to experience the wonder of California through the eyes of someone who sees magic in every pond and dusty path.
Our walks have given me a chance to unwind, to decompress from the pressure of trying to find myself in words. It might sound counter-intuitive to be apart from what I love, as reading and writing are what give me a sense of myself, but I’ve begun to see how much weight that love packs onto my brain. Being in nature, next to my wily companion, I can breathe out and release all the information I’ve hoarded unnecessarily and bring back in a little relaxation. There’s no pressure in nature, no over-thinking, no need for wit; it’s as simple as one step forward, or back, or up. Sometimes what we love to do can box us up in ourselves, keeping us from experiencing growth in new challenges. Out in nature I get to be a different kind of me, one that isn’t fighting to be right or safe. Instead, I get to follow the lead of someone I trust, and that is a beautiful thing.
Mixed in with the relaxation, between naps and chapters, is the wondrous clarity I get out in the wild. Yes, it is important to do what you love, to seek knowledge, to lay about under a warm blanket with some tea, but what about the feel of the wind on your scalp? There are many types of freedom, none better than the rest, but I can now (somewhat begrudgingly) admit that the freedom I get beside a stream is almost as good as Tolkien. It feels a little bit like healing.
So, I encourage you to get outside wherever you can, however you can, to get a respite from the oftentimes break-neck flow of life. Not every city is near the woods like mine, but even a little break outside, away from work, or the TV or those pesky family members can do wonders. You might just find you like it.