Finding peace in the outdoors

Two people in a canoe on a lake on a summer day.

Getting outdoors, for me, means connecting with creation and that brings a sense of peace and wonderment of all that is. Connecting with the outdoors reminds me that I am an extension of creation, and creation is divine. This knowing activates the divinity within me and reconnects me with myself. As humans, we can get caught up in the distraction and busyness of the world. Reconnecting with the perfection of nature is a reflection and reminder of our own perfection.

There are many outdoor activities I enjoy – like biking, hiking, rock climbing, snowboarding, kayaking, paddling, camping – and activities I’d like to try, like ice climbing (which I plan to do this winter). Doing these activities and connecting with the outdoors is a meditation for me. I appreciate the spiders, the breeze, and the sun on my face as I traverse the side of a mountain to rock climb. I appreciate the tree roots and rocks while mountain biking. I hold deep appreciation for the river while kayaking or canoeing. I connect with nature by being in communion with nature.

While I have done a fair amount of climbing indoors, I had one of my first outdoor climbing experiences with my children in Wisconsin this past July. Being outdoors adds another layer of complexity to climbing that made the adventure awesome. I attempted a course on the mountain that was flat on the surface with no crevices, nooks, or crannies for my toes in sight. After several attempts to reach higher up and possibly pull myself up with sheer upper body strength, I began to get tired – but I was determined to figure it out and get past this point of the climb. With other experienced climbers present, I learned a technique called smearing, which is the act of pressing the sole of your shoe directly onto the rock slab and using friction to gain vertical ground. It worked! The climb was challenging both physically and mentally and stretched me in many ways, but I made it to the summit and felt proud in my persistence toward the goal.

If you want to get outdoors, find groups or people who are already doing the activity you want to try. There are many ways to connect with others online and once you find a group, you can learn from those that are more skilled or experienced and be in community with people that share similar interests. When you’re in a group, you’re able to be with others and learn together, which removes some of the fear of failure that comes with trying something new on your own – and sometimes in a larger group, the costs for participation (i.e. gear and equipment) is reduced and know-how increases, which removes those things as barriers to entry. I believe all of this can make it more fun!

—Nesret Theba

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