It’s somewhere between 6:45pm to 7:30pm and the sun is low on the horizon giving the city of Pasadena that warm golden hour glow. I had recently returned home from a day at college, eaten dinner and was now walking to the small neighborhood park several blocks from my apartment. The park had a grass field, with a table area, basket ball court and play structure encompassing it while a hand full of different kinds trees were smattered throughout. I had made a habit out of venturing there in the evenings to find some rest and recovery a couple times a week. As this became normal for me I discovered that I wasn’t the only one who seemed to frequent the park. In fact some days it seems that nearly the whole neighborhood was spending time at the park as well.
I would see folks simply walking and talking, parents playing some pick-up soccer or baseball with their children, or groups of kids on some grand make-believe quest while all their mother’s sat and chatted. Still others would be working out, running or playing basketball or frisbee. Thinking back, one thing that stands out is that I don’t remember many people spending much time on their phones or a screen, instead they were enjoying the greenery, each other, a sport or all of it at once.
Everyone Is Invited
It often seems that we’ve moved away from our outdoor roots as seen in the Luis’s and the Clark’s, the John Muir’s, or the John Wesley Powell’s, American outdoor adventures in their own rights, and instead sought our desire for discovery by plugging in and hoping that the latest TV show will fulfill that part of us. However, amidst my college years in the city, (I grew up in the mountains), I started to see that maybe valuing, spending time in and reaping the benefits of the outdoors wasn’t limited to grizzled men in flannel shirts with wild beards risking life and limb while exploring unknown terrain. Maybe it was as simple as a walk a few blocks down the street to the neighborhood park. And not only our option to do so but more importantly, our choosing to do so.
In the beginning of February we released a post titled A Dose Of Nature which explored the benefits of nature for humans. In today’s post my aim is not to shame or condemn us for our technology-urban driven culture, I think we’ve received quite enough of that already. Instead, I want to offer some inspiration and remind us that we are not powerless to our plugged-in culture; that we still have a choice when it comes to benefitting from nature.
Along these lines of thinking I decided to call some folks and get their take on getting ourselves, our families and especially children into the outdoors. We’ll be releasing stories from those interviews over the next month or so. My hope? To inspire you to take yourself and children out the front door (or the back) to bless your soul and their’s.. and maybe more.
A Little Help From My Friends
Here’s a quick snippet from Will. He grew up in San Diego CA, is a former guide at Rock-N-Water and is now a youth pastor in Anchorage, AK. The climate between southern California and Alaska is so different I thought he might give us some unique insight.
I simply asked Will, “how do you actually get yourself outside?” He says, “it’s easier when you have a partner for sure. It’s not even an options to not go when you have a partner.” Like when he knows his sister Asia is waiting for him – or maybe she thinks he is waiting for her. Either way it gets both these born-again Alaskan’s outside, something that they both know they want to do even if they don’t feel like it in the moment. He says, “a lot of the time I just make myself get out. It’s the days that you bail and end up doing nothing all day, like just spending time on Youtube, Facebook or Netlfix; those are the days that you say ‘man I regret that so much, that was a poor decision.'”
Realize, though, that sometimes Will is choosing to get out when the temperature is 5 degrees fahrenheit. He favors hiking and running, although, it’s unclear which he likes the most. “I have more trouble motivating myself to go for a run than I do to go for a hike, because honestly, I just like to hike. I really look forward to it every week. I kind of crave it.” On the other hand he says, “running, not so much. Running is something that I know that I need to do. On the converse side, I’m always more happy that I ran, than I am that I hiked.” I asked him why that is and after a pause he chuckles and says, “probably because there are more endorphins involved!”
So find a friend, take a walk to the park and lay in the grass looking up at the sky.. or go for a run in below freezing, whenever it is you won’t regret it, that much is certain. Stay posted for more stories like these from friends in our Nature Series.