One of my favorite memoirs-turned-movie is Wild written and experienced by Cheryl Strayed. Wild tells the story about how Cheryl backpack hiked the Pacific Crest Trail after suffering extreme loss in her life. She used the trail as an attempt to set herself right after getting off track (no pun intended hehe) in the real world. At 26, she had lost her mom, went through a divorce, and got tied up with some codependency issues with drugs. Now, I’m not saying my personal journey is even remotely similar to Cheryl’s at this point, BUT I was so intrigued by the idea of utilizing nature to come to terms with who you’ve become and who you want to be.
I use nature to keep myself centered. Nature puts me in a place where I can’t pick up my phone and lose sight of where I’m trying to get. Hiking, quite literally, shows me a path where I can physically see myself making progress. Rather than falling into the dark hole that includes problematic thoughts and damaging habits, I am thrust into a space where I can’t help but notice what my body– my joints, my lungs, my sweat glands, my ten toes–is truly capable of. Similar to the young Cheryl in her memoir, I want nature to put important aspects of my life into perspective and make me see beauty with a new appreciation.
Why I Go and Why You Should Too
So, unlike Cheryl Strayed, I’m not taking three months off from day-to-day life to embark on the Pacific Crest Trail (although that sounds like something that could be in my future). No, rather I choose to take the smaller moments and chunks of weeks to immerse myself in a state of meditative, natural bliss.
Some hikes go better than others, I won’t lie about that. Sometimes I get eaten alive by mosquitos and wonder why da fuk I’m not chilling on my semi-air conditioned apartment cozied up in my bed watching some yummy TV show. It’s normal to not have the perfect hike.
BUT if you’re looking for a way to briefly escape from the pressures of this society, I highly advise giving it a try. Even if you don’t have more than a pair of running shoes and you haven’t attempted to plan a hike in ages, I still advise you to go! Even if for a morning or afternoon. Get out there and breathe the air this Earth has given you! Clear your mind, be with yourself. Show your body some appreciation and love for how it carries you through across that trail or path.
Nature and art. They’re two aspects of this world that are available to everyone who seeks them. And let me tell you: I can almost promise there won’t be any bad outcome from dipping your toes in one or the other.
Next week I’ll talk about how to make the most out of your hiking or camping trip to enhance your mind and advance your healing process. Until then, tell me how you manage your thoughts and mental wellbeing.
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