Well, the “old vacation week” seems to be clicking along nicely. Great weather and not having to set the alarm clock for work appears to be doing the trick.
We spent the first Sunday afternoon hiking along the shores of Georgian Bay in the Town of Parry Sound north of us. Arriving back at the “old homestead” in the early evening, I felt a grand wave of satisfaction and thankfulness for those moments spent in nature.
Generally, I’m not a huge fan of the posters “Advice from a ……”, but in this case, it seems entirely appropriate.
Of all the great universities and halls of higher thought and education, nature surely as a place of learning, discovery and enlightenment has to be ranked right up there with the Oxford’s, Yale’s and Dalhousie’s of the world.
We all desperately believe in my heart that when our children head off to college or university, their eyes and minds will be wide open to all the possibilities set before them. Heading down those hallowed hallways of the world’s most distinguished institutions of higher learning, ready, willing and eager to change not only themselves but the world as well.
Similarly, if our eyes, ears, and minds are open when we head on out into nature, the same endless possibilities of change and growth are present along a trail, as they would be at Cambridge University in England or McGill University in Montreal.
A closed mind is a terrible thing.
On the other hand, a mind that is open, fertile and ready to learn, experience, change and growth based on the experiences within the environment it finds itself is a great thing.
So, with this in mind.
Advice From A Trail
Walk into beauty
Beauty is simply all around us.
All we need to do open our eyes and more importantly, our minds to look for it. Beauty is more often than not found in the simplest of objects. Sun shines through the branches of a tree; a small babbling brook that tumbles gently down through a forest; the sun setting over the horizon.
In your life, beauty is right in front of you.
Simply open your eyes and mind to observe the beauty that surrounds you.
A mind that is closed and narrow fails to see the wonder and value that envelopes them.
Stay on your path
Straying off the path or trail in the wilderness can have dire consequences. All of us have a path set before us to follow throughout our lives. Find your path, whatever that path may be and start the step by step hike down it.
Our journey through life, much like hiking all 1,200km of “The Great Divide Trail” through the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and British Columbia in Canada is a marathon, not a sprint.
You have a purpose, reason or passion that is ignited in your soul that defines your particular path in life.
Find out the reasons for your path and journey. Start by taking that first step; then another; and then another.
Find inspiration around every turn
The tag line, we use with “justabitfurther” for quite a while now is:
“get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself.”
The inspiration that we may find or seek for ourselves throughout our lives often shows up in the most unexpected places – like around every turn.
And it is often the smallest and seemingly most insignificant things, usually taken for granted, that we can find the greatest inspiration in.
The sun setting below the horizon and reflecting off the still waters of a northern lake on a warm summer evening. An unexpected bird, like a red cardinal sitting and singing in the branches of a tree located close to your living room window.
In life, as in nature, when our mind is open and ready, inspiration will be around every corner just waiting for us to grab hold of it and charge headlong into a future of endless possibilities.
An open mind provides fertile soil and environment for inspiration to take root, grow and flourish.
As we round that next corner, be ready for something extraordinary to inspire us into something wonderful.
One critical element when spending time in nature in any realm, whether your local park or a wilderness or semi-wilderness location, is to leave it just as you found.
This is encompassed in the principles of LNT(Leave No Trace).
When hiking out on a trail, one goal of many out there would be at the end of the day, to have left behind, as little of an impact as possible.
The same concept or principle can be applied in our daily life.
More often than not, two distinct and completely opposite personality types end up in the same place with the same results.
One type might get there through being a bully, leaving a wake of destruction, broken promises and lives along the way.
The other personality type gets there by treading lightly through life, building relationships with others; holds no grudges and that by helping and standing with others they are helping themselves.
Simply ask yourself, “who would you like to work for”. The bully who practices a “scorched earth approach” or the “tread lightly person?”
To me the answer is obvious.
Pack life with good memories
When you’re hiking on a trail, whether it be a day hike or a multi-day backcountry trip, you need the correct equipment. You need to pack the “right stuff” for the type of trip you’re doing.
Having the correct equipment with you in a way helps to add to the overall enjoyment and memories created on the adventure.
Notice that the advice was “good memories”, not just simply memories.
At some basic level, the interpretation of our memories of events, life, people and such, is either good or bad. I suspect, however, that many of those memories might be considered neutral.
But, today we’re looking at packing life with “good memories” and those “good memories” being the ones we intentionally created.
Can’t “good memories” just happen?
Sure they can. In fact, they can happen quite often. Unfortunately, more often than not they don’t happen like that.
Days roll into each other; months rush by quicker than we think and before we realize it, yet another year or years have vanished from our life.
Good memories” are the ones that have an emotional impact on us. They enrich our lives; they bond us with other people.
How then? – Three Steps
Create – be intentional(think the weekend away as an example)
Celebrate – “party up” milestones when they occur(graduations, birthdays, anything!!)
Connect – do the above with those you love
You only have one hike along the trail we call life. Make sure at the end of it all, it was packed with the right equipment – good memories.
Every day has its ups and downs
When Lynn and I are out hiking, it seems that 99.9% of the trails we hike at some juncture along the way, go uphill for reasons that continue to baffle us. Often that “baffling uphill” is a steep and heart-pumping challenge.
After cresting the top, I always hope with any amount of luck, that shortly the heart-pumping uphill will be followed by a nice “not so heart-pumping” downhill.
Like hiking, life throws us ups and downs.
Some challenges will be relatively minor in nature, not heart-pumping at all. Other times, the ups and downs that get thrust across our path, will make “heart-pumping” seem like a walk in the park.
It goes without saying, the ups and downs that each of us experience in life are nothing new. This isn’t something the universe burped up two weeks ago to toss in your way.
So, expect them to happen.
Every morning when you roll out of bed and get pouring that first coffee, know that at some point during your following waking hours, life will toss a few ups and downs your way.
You can handle it.
You have to this point. Haven’t you?
Watch your step!
One of the cardinal rules in hiking is this.
If you don’t watch where your feet are going, sooner or later and usually sooner you’ll find yourself flat on your face. Something will catch one foot and then it’s a trip and stumble, followed by scraped knees and elbows and a hugely bruised ego.
When hiking on a trail in the bush, you need to pick your feet up and not shuffle and scuff along.
Generally speaking, life is exactly the same.
If your tendency is to tromp along through life, not watching where you step; not paying attention to either the direction you’re headed or where your “feet” are, there is a darn good chance at some you’ll trip and stumble.
Not just once, but perhaps on a frequency that is far more often than you might like.
How might we minimize then, our chances of the “proverbial trip and stumble” in life?
- have a focus on the direction you’re headed
- watch your step
- plan your next foot placement(what happens next week; next year)
So, there you go.
A bit of advice on getting through life from nature.
There is plenty that we can learn about our “self” by simply spending time in nature.
When we go and approach the time we spend there with our minds wide open to what nature and has for us, you’ll be amazed at what happens.