I cannot remember the last time I went for a walk in the woods without having leashed it firmly to a chore—going to clean up trash, taking the dogs for a walk, or getting my steps in. Last week, after a stretch of deadlines that loomed day after day, I stayed up one night and got the last pressing project off my desk. Then the next morning, a time usually reserved for writing, I felt a lot freer and headed into our little woodland patch along Cobb's Creek. I came home refreshed and content.
Some of my readers are probably familiar with the over-scheduling problem; it's so easy to fill our days with work and other obligations that conspire to keep us indoors. But on that day, giving myself permission to take an unencumbered walk in the woods, resulted in a bliss that felt like taking a deep breath with an oxygen-starved body. And really, is there any better sound than birdsong commingled with water rippling over rocks?
Granted, our woodland plot is no pristine wilderness. It is full of poison ivy, litter, and invasive plant species. But for all that mess, it's still beautiful. Of course, it is especially beautiful on a sunny spring day, but even when it's cold or drizzly, sometimes it can be restorative. I believe that when we are thoroughly depleted, getting outside and absorbing the sounds of nature is the ultimate form of self-care.
Sometimes it seems that as I write more and more articles and blog posts related to the environment and green space, I’m spending less and less time in an actual green space, so it was good to remedy that situation. It's funny how sitting on a rock and taking in the beauty of the trees can make one believe that maybe we do have a fighting chance of making a difference in this world. And on those days when I carry a bag to pick up the litter, it reminds me that I do have some power to make things better.
I went to hear a talk recently by Terry Tempest Williams, a conservation writer and activist, who says we need to fight for these places because they're fragile remainders. In her book, Finding Beauty in a Broken World, she draws the analogy that just like a colorful mosaic created from broken bits, our natural environment offers pockets of beauty that need our care. If we work with what we have left and let the beauty that remains seep into our souls, it can motivate us to protect what remains.
So, if it's been a minute since you've taken a break, I recommend a walk in the woods as one of the best ways to restore one's spirit. Yes, the state of our environment rests on a dangerous precipice, but just for a moment make the time go outside, take in the green, and refresh yourself for the next leg of the journey. What green spaces do you love? Do you get out for a walk as often as you like? Please tell us about it.