When people ask me if I go to church, I generally tell them that I do, but my church doesn’t have walls and a roof, it has trees, rocks, water and wildlife.
This conjures up some odd looks but most often a decent conversation will follow. You see, I have always found it easier to connect with God, Life Force, Energy, Nature, Spirit, The Universe etc when I am amongst the trees and away from the structure of our modern world.
It could also be that I love the woods and it calms me, but regardless of the connection/reason, it’s an important aspect of my life and I make a point of enjoying it on a daily basis.
In a previous life, I must have been a wanderer.
Always drawn to the work of authors such as Aldo Leopold, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Rachel Carson and Edward Abbey among others, you can be certain that a book about adventure, conservation, thru-hiking, hunting, fishing or survival will spark my interest.
These are the books which suck me in and I find myself dreaming about living in the mountains, living off the land like Dick Proenneke or going on long thru-hikes such as the Appalachian Trail or Camino De Santiago.
Closer to home and back in the real world, as I stroll along the winding trails, and witness wildlife I am always amazed at how beautiful life is in the urban forest. Even though I often frequent the same trails out of convenience, I am still happy every time I am there, and while enjoying the walkabouts, I often reflect on life, or at times will listen to audiobooks and podcasts to learn from the wisdom of others.
On Sunday, I woke up at 5:50am and decided to toss my backpack in the car, drove to a new trail I found in Gold Bar park and began to walk. The sun was rising over the horizon, the air was warm and as I walked East I listened to a number of different podcast episodes.
Between podcasts, or when I came across a thought that was worth exploring, I would turn off the phone and simply listen to my thoughts, the breeze, the birds and the squirrels.
As the sun rose higher and the air warmed, my thoughts moved from one topic to another just as my feet stepped carried me from one view to the next. Of the many things that I contemplated during my walk, here are the five ideas that stood out the most:
- We are all born intrinsically happy – As easy as it is to say that it’s a choice to be happy, sad or otherwise, when we think about a child as they come into the world, they are all born happy. All they need is love, food, water and warmth. Fast forward many years, and we can be bothered by simple things that if we take a step back to reflect upon, many of these things can seem unnecessary/unimportant. When we can find a way to connect to our inner child – or at least the idea of happiness as a child would experience it – life can shift for us in amazing ways.
- We each have our own unique strengths and it is important to play to our capabilities – You are gifted in one way or another. If you are not sharing this gift with the world, then it’s time to start. What are you great at doing? If you don’t know, ask the people in your life and once you have a list of examples, figure out which ONE lights you up the most and start applying it every day.
- Like a diverse forest, we are the sum of the people we surround ourselves with and the choices we make – a forest that thrives has a variety of plant life. A field that has only one crop requires a lot of special attention to produce the crop. A forest which has a bounty of different plant species will thrive over time because the plants work together to support each other and ultimately develop into an ecology which is beneficial for all involved. This concept holds true for your life as well. When you surround yourself with people and activities which support each other and raise the standard of living, we all benefit. Who are the people you spend the most time with and how do they support you in your growth? How do you support them in their growth?
- There’s things in life than we can control and there’s things that are out of our control – When we trust ourselves, we are better equipped to go with what is in our control. When we focus on controlling the things in our life that we can, we will save time, money and energy while we achieve our desires and have a more enjoyable life. What happens when you spend your energy focusing on things that are out of your control? How can you change that and what do you think would shift in your life when you do?
- We spend more time and energy trying to talk ourselves out of things. If we would take the first step, we will accomplish more in life – Think about all the times you told yourself that you couldn’t, it was too cold, too much money, too hard, you aren’t interested, couldn’t possibly do it and so on. Imagine if you had spent your time believing that you could, taking action towards accomplishing the goals and learning from your experiences. How would your life be different?
Speaking of trying new things and taking action, you may be interested in joining my 8 Week Hiking Group which is starting on September 11th. There’s lots of great stuff included in the group which will gather on Facebook as well as for a weekly hike in the Edmonton River Valley. For more detailed information, click on the link below.