Note: today is going to be a rough day for a lot of us. We hope that you feel safe, loved, seen, and important today and always. We stand together.
When I was in college, I took a literature class focused on the writing of Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau famously wrote of and in nature, immersing himself in the outdoors and living simply while authoring books like Walden. As part of the class, each student had to pick a place in nature and go sit there each week to write. I’ll admit, it felt strange. I had to fight the urge to bring my camera with me, or to browse my phone, or invite a friend to go into the woods with me. Something that should have felt natural felt foreign at first. But looking back at it now, I feel gratitude towards my professor for forcing us to step out of our distracted, ever-connected lives and create something among the trees.
Now more than ever, as our political climate continues to grow more chaotic and divisive, nature continues to be a huge source of solace. Its purity and unbridled beauty provides comfort, perspective, beauty, and inspiration in a world that sometimes feels stifling. My boyfriend and I are huge outdoors people, so we’ve spent the last four years taking in nature together through camping, roadtrips, hikes, and photo adventures – but recently, I took a day to spend in the outdoors by myself for the first time in a long time. And it was exactly what I needed.
Bundled up and armed with a thermos of hot coffee, I put on my favorite playlist and drove the tree-lined road to Deception Pass, the strait that connects Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island in Washington. If you haven’t been before, it is a Pacific Northwest monument that is truly breathtaking: freshwater and saltwater meet in a blue-green hue that seems to have no bounds, tall evergreens line the rugged rock bluffs, and wild beaches dot the coastline. I had only ever visited the park in a group, but the act of wandering these cliffs alone refreshed my soul in a hundred ways and reminded me why it’s so important to soak in the outdoors solo every once in awhile:
- It gets rid of all distraction. No social media, no news or politics, no conversation or human presence. In this moment, you are free to simply be.
- It reignites your spirit of independence. As someone who usually explores the outdoors in a pair or a group, meandering throughout this beautiful park reminded me of my strong, fierce independent streak.I drove slowly, stopped whenever I wanted, listened to songs that are meaningful to me, and generally experienced the day exactly how I wanted to. I felt strong and powerful.
- It puts things in perspective. It’s been a challenging few months for me as we picked up and moved back to our home state suddenly, and I’ve found myself getting bogged down by the smallest details. As I sat watching the cold sunlight drift over the blue mountains, all of these problems seemed small and frivolous. My inward reflection empowered me to sort of the things that were really important, and trust my own instinct to move forward in big life decisions.
- It inspires creation. As I explored alone, my fingers instantly began itching to photograph the rugged beauty. To write. To read. To return to a state of creating after a period of stagnation and self doubt. To try, however impossible, to recreate the wonder of my surroundings.
- It beckons you back. If any of the above seems cliche, it might be because it is. I returned to cell phone service and traffic and grocery stories, and the real world slowly sunk back in. But now I know that I can once more tap into all of these feelings if I only venture out again.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach…” Henry David Thoreau