With the holiday season wrapping up I find myself trying to find ways to unwind and destress from the overwhelming responsibilities of creating wonderful moments while keeping everyone happy.
It brought to mind a meeting I once had with a primitive skills practitioner who once stated a truth that had never crossed my mind before but one I can't escape at times like these.
He asked me if I had ever travelled onto a well used trail and just found a place to sit. To just sit and watch. I of course said no. He challenged me to do just that. If you do, he said, you will watch many people who attend in hopes of relaxing and freeing themselves from their stressful lives for just a brief time. However as they walk by you will observe that they move quickly, talk loudly, and see nothing ! Those people most in need of peace and relaxation will bring their city legs to the beautiful great outdoors.
It made me realize that just driving and parking at the trail head, throwing on your pack, tightening your hikers, checking your watch and blazing through the trail is not peaceful nor is it relaxing.
After that discussion I purposely travelled into the forest and found myself a suitable location to sit and did just that. I sat there. I sat for an hour. Initially I could feel my body and mind fighting that desire to get up and move. After awhile though I felt a sense of calm come over me. I could hear the birds. I could pick off the movements of squirrels and chipmunks playing amongst the trees. I could hear and feel the trees sway back and fourth in the cool autumn breeze.
I had finally found my true stress relief.
I had finally slowed down enough to put it all aside and leave it at the trail head. I didn't rush. I had no external stresses that were overwhelming me. It was true inner peace.
Since then I have embarked that wisdom upon my two boys. They, as I did, initially found it hard to sit and just listen. However I watched the transformation. I watched their eyes wander through the forest observing, touching, smelling and listening. It was an amazing moment. It was a skill and a way of true stress relief that they may not have realized happened but hopefully can draw on as their lives become stressful and filled with deadlines and financial realities.
I realize that our lives are filled with time lines. You may only have 2 hours to complete that 5 km trail and with map in hand you are concerned with not finishing it. I get that. I've been there.
Next time just go and sit. Place your pack against a tree and just sit. Close your eyes and take in all the sounds and smells around you. Find that place where you truly forget real life and all the stressful baggage that it comes with. If you bring that baggage into the forest you will never truly experience what the great Canadian wilderness has to offer.
True stress relief.