Ah! There is nothing like the feeling after exertion in nature. The day was cool, crisp even, but warm when the sun was out and I was getting myself uphill.
I am thankful for all the people over the years who had the foresight to preserve such great spaces. I benefit greatly whether from a local walk and ride path (Sligo Creek Park is my nearest greenway) or larger tracts like Catoctin Mountains or Shenandoah National Park or Red Rock Country. It’s one thing to see these spaces on National Geographic or Nature. It’s another to experience them firsthand.
I am grateful that I have the wherewithal—physical, financial, time—to enjoy these places and I marvel at my luck. I feel fortunate to take advantage of them.
I see those great mountains, rising up so many thousands of feet above me and I see how small I am. It’s comforting in an odd way. I know that these landscapes took thousands of years to create. The life within them proceeds apace, adapted over centuries to the rhythms of wind, sun, water. Whatever I managed to worry myself with goes away. I get perspective.
I’ve been hiking for many years now. I have photo albums stuffed with pictures of this great landscape, that tree formation, another plant or animal. It’s where I go to return to myself, to calm down, to get perspective, to recharge. It’s as necessary to me as breathing. I don’t do it all the time but I return to it when I need a pick-me-up or to clarify a vexing problem, to show me something I hadn’t seen before or to return me to wonder. I marvel at the birds. I can still get excited at seeing a heron or a hawk, birds I’ve seen countless times. It doesn’t matter. Nature’s beauty awes me. I’m happy to know I’m part of it.
Of course, I’d love everyone to get misty as I do when mountains come into view or when a rock formation, stream, or waterfall is just so. But really what I want is for everyone to have this feeling, no matter how you get it. Nature and hiking might not do it for you. What does?
What do you do to retreat and breathe deeply? Play tennis? Garden? Needlework? Carpentry? Art? These pursuits are not idle but essential, especially for organizational leaders and social change activists. How many times have we allowed ourselves to get sick in the name of one more thing that must get done? How brittle do we allow ourselves, our relationships, and problem solving to be? Contrary to the perception that we can squeeze out one more task, our effectiveness is demonstrably better if we are nourished by something in addition to our work. The insights gained from another pursuit can help us see our work in new ways. And it forces us to focus and be efficient if we know we have another commitment to honor. Vacations big and small are essential to our effective functioning. We don’t just exhale. We inhale too.
- Where do you go to refill your spiritual and emotional cup?
- What allows you to get a clear view of your life or current challenges?
- Where is your “pause that refreshes” to borrow an old ad line?