Experience: Glint in Our Eyes
In the middle of the city lay wildness…ready to be discovered. Starting mid-March my friend Darin Eich and I made a pact: in the face of COVID-19, we would get outside to stay connected and engaged. And we would do it by priming our spirit of adventure on a walk through nature.
Regularly, we meet at a sprawling city park on the edge of a planned forest called the Arboretum. It is deliciously intertwined with marshes, ponds, walking trails, and tall shrubs. It’s the kind of place where you can step out of the urban vibe 100 feet into the experience. Randomly, we choose our route and see where it leads; each time exploring new terrain. We weave into our conversation tales of innovation, new projects, and what future possibilities can look like in our work or life. The mood lifts as we live into a metaphor by twisting and turning through the unknown. Just like we are doing in this very uncertain time.
After our hike, we exit somewhere along the urban corridor but we can never quite tell where in advance. More than a few times, we are surprised at an odd passageway or weird twist that takes us into new territory. Yet we make it back with a newly forged glint in our eyes.
Relevance: Students of Wildness
The entire human world is off balance right now, as we all know too well. Daily, we struggle to find our way through what was once familiar. Restaurants, roads, services, jobs, friends, and family all are intimately affected.
Taking a walk through nature wakes us up to the dynamic, wild nature of life of which we are a part. It is ALIVE with the messy, uneasy dance of natural things. Birds jostle for food. Ants rebuild their tunnels. Trees renew and then release their leaves. It’s a rich community beset by constant change and continuous reframing. To be in this space fills us with the reality that everything, including us, is in flux. We are not immune from it no matter how much we try. In this way, we witness and may be grateful students of wildness.
Here are some ideas for adventuring into the unknown, wildness of nature:
Take a one hour walk. Luckily for many of us, nature trails are close by even in big cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, and Phoenix. Find a place that has wandering trails not just a grassy park. If you run out of room or it becomes too familiar over time, find a new place to explore! Enter every path with the wide-open spirit of wonder.
Plan a day-long adventure. Local parks and natural areas sometimes are too small for serious adventuring. You need to get in a car or bike to find them. Check out your county, state, and federal parks. They are treasures to be found.
Wander for longer. If you need a bigger recharge, consider setting out on a multi-day wandering. There are trails that cross counties near hotels or homes for rent. You can always be bolder and stay in a tent or camper. The idea is to reach out more widely to discover whole new vistas. These can rekindle and enliven our perspectives about what is possible, how small we are, and the wisdom of natural things.