My absolute most favorite thing to do is bask in the shade-tree, filtered sunlight on an exploratory forest walk. I wrote this short story last fall and while some details have changed, the main ideas of mindfulness and rejuvenation remain as true as ever, season after season, year after year.
The Power of Trees (and the Wonder of Little Adventurers)
If I seemed a little apathetic about my hiking adventure this past weekend, it was probably because I was trying to downplay how amazing it was for fear of seeming silly for enjoying something I do so often and in the same place. Growing up in New England with access to so many places to enjoy spring, summer, fall, and (sometimes) winter outdoors, my favorite spots have always been those near the coast with adventurous wooded trails. Perfect for "forest bathing" or the coined term "Shinrin-yoku." Getting lost in discovering new pathways is extremely rejuvenating for me. In the mode of survival and unearthing, I let go of all my menial worries and the task at hand is so much more clear.
Small children exhibit this and embody this feeling quite naturally. Last week I was walking and ahead on the trail was a large family mulling about. One of the younger boys, about 4 or 5 years old, was walking, eyes closed, arms moving in circular motion forward through the air as if he was swimming through this peaceful place. Anyone could tell he was truly "in it" and completely absorbing the energy of the nature around him. Shinrin-yoku.
In the mode of survival and unearthing, I let go of all my menial worries and the task at hand is so much more clear.
The train I take every weekday runs along tracks through river and many many trees. I can sometimes imagine I am back in the woods by the coast instead of squished into a train car with 100 of my "closest friends" on my way to the middle of Boston. On this route the passengers seem more relaxed than other subway and bus lines, but out of all, the children seem most enthused. Three siblings, big brother protective over baby with mother. Meanwhile middle-child with leaps and bounds rushes into the doors of the train and up to the benches kneeling to get a good look out through the large windows at all there is to see, captivated by this perspective: the train whirring and whizzing through miles of trees.
There's also the astute observant type. "Look at that broken part of the train. That's where it is allowed to bend." "Look you can see at this stop we are near the water, but the woods come first."
Our ability to continue forth comes from the simplicity of rejuvenation. Stopping and taking a rest and "smelling the roses." Clarity of thinking and idea generation are born from mindfulness and the novelty of adventure.