Tag Archives: childhood

It Can All Be New Again

“We frequently walk with the sole purpose of getting from one place to another. But where are we in between? With every step, we can feel the miracle of walking on solid ground. We can arrive in the present moment with every step.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

“When we first learned to walk, we walked just to enjoy walking. We walked and discovered each moment as we encountered it. We can learn to walk that way again.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Over the past several months I have learned the truth in the quotes written above by Thich Nhat Hanh. Although I certainly do not remember learning to walk, I can recall the squeals of delight from both of my children as they took their first steps. Eyes wide open with surprise, the fact that taking their first steps could bring such joy is something that we have forgotten as adults. We have nothing left to experience that is a new and as exciting as this.

As I recall those moments, I have to admit that when I go out to hike I don’t squeal anymore (at least out loud), but I do feel a sense of bliss and satisfaction every time I head to the woods. I am, however, mindful of why I walk as often as I can. These days it is equally as much for my mental well being as it is for my physical health.

My point is a simple one. Regardless of why you may walk, it is important not to lose the wonder and excitement that you felt as a child and made those discoveries for the first time. If you look hard enough, you can discover something new on every hike that you take. The changing of the leaves, the smell of the morning air or meeting someone new, it is all up to you. If you are lucky, you just won’t be listening to just what your head is telling you. If you listen very carefully, you will hear it in your heart as well.

Happy Hiking!!!

Remember when you were young?

Does anyone besides me remember when kids played outside and had to actually engage in some form of human interaction? For years now, whenever I talk to kids (I work in a high school) and ask them what they did over the course of a weekend or during summer break, I always get the same answer and it never involves being outside.

Most of the responses I get involve the couch, sleeping and video games. Very rarely do I have kids tell me about the time they spent actually being outside and just playing. Forget about hiking. I talk about the hikes that I do and they look at me as if I am from another planet. As a matter of fact, the look they give me is the same one that I see when I tell them when I was their age we only had channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13  to choose from on the television. And to make matters worse, Channel 13 was Public Broadcasting!!!

Children of my generation just didn’t play outside, we explored. There was a sense of excitement as we ran through the woods and built forts and just spent hours upon hours of wandering. The great thing about it was that it never got old. No matter how many times you walked through the same woods, on the same path, it didn’t matter whether it was a beautiful day or raining, it seemed as if there was always something new to experience. The only limits to do what we could do depended on how much our imagination held us back. Remembering that time, there were no limits.

As you know, I look forward to being outside hiking as a way to balance myself and to get rid of the mental garbage that accumulates on a daily basis. I find it refreshing to be able to breathe in the air and feel the soft swell of the earth under my feet as I hike towards an awesome view point or from trail to trail. I have found that it is not the end that counts, it’s the journey.

REI, the sporting goods company, is giving all of their employees the day after Thanksgiving off so that they can “opt outside.” Why? They are encouraging all of their employees to take the day and hit the trails. Shouldn’t we all be doing this? Shouldn’t we be encouraging our kids to get outside and do something? We have an entire generation of kids who spend seven hours a day in school and then the rest of the evening inside watching tv or playing video games.

In looking at the big picture, can I automatically assume that everyone will experience the same benefit that I do from spending time outside? Can I assume that if someone takes the time to get out and just walk around, that they would feel better, both physically and psychologically? I think that the proof of this can not be denied.

We all lament about the “good old days” and how things used to be so much simpler than they are today. The time where we didn’t mind being outside, even in the rain and the snow. I really wonder what it will take to get back to that time? Can we? Should we? Sure, it is really great to be able to get out into the woods when I can, but I’m not going to lie, it isn’t enough and I wish it was more.  Do you remember when you were young?