One of the many benefits of taking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago was reconnecting with nature. The slowness of walking allowed me ample time to appreciate this gift. Try to imagine the beginning of a day with cool breath visible upon each exhale. When the sun cracks the horizon, there is no need for the headlamp as the illumination begins to cast shadows and heats the body. With each step, the earth crackles and crunches. Throughout the day, nature provided an unfolding movie scene that seemed to extract stress from my mind and body.
In today’s world, we have become disconnected from nature. Our offices consist of paneled walls and artificial light. Most of our time is spent staring at monitors during the day and flat panel TVs after work. Obesity is on the rise and anti-depressant medications are being dispensed at unprecedented levels. Our minds have a limited capacity to focus and require timeouts to refresh. Time in nature provides the platform for the conscious mind to rest and recharge.
My last ten days have been consumed by satiating a love affair with nature. I am fortunate to live in Idaho which is home to the Wood River Valley that is surrounded by exquisite mountains including the Sawtooth, Smoky, Pioneer, and Boulder ranges. I spend 3-4 hours each day in my hiking boots, on my mountain bike, or riding my roadie. The fresh air enhances my energy, the stunning scenery refreshes my soul, and the exercise keeps my body in shape. I am living a dream.
If you are not able to take this kind of break from life, then make a conscious effort to embrace the natural world throughout your daily life. Turn off the TV and walk at night. Pack a healthy lunch, walk to a park, and use that space as your cafeteria. Lie down on the ground and lose your mind in a never ending cloud dance that plays daily in most cities. You will never regret the rejuvenation associated with a good book and a river.
Paths that are uncomfortable, treacherous, less traveled, crooked, and lonesome always lead to the best views……