This last year has been traumatic and painful for so many people, in so many ways. But among the fear, instability, and loss that has been unfolding, there has also been some significant shifts in perception.
After a lifetime being told to work harder, live faster, consume more, and travel further, many people have had the time to sit back and reassess what really matters to them.
So many of us have realized how important it is to have access to natural places, and how all the cheap clothes and plastic tat in the world can’t make up for the freedom to walk beneath the open sky with people that we love.
It’s a shame that it took a global pandemic for people to start seeing this, but to be fair billions of pounds are spent every year to make us believe that we need to work harder and to buy more stuff to be happy/cool/beautiful/successful/good enough.
Let’s take travel as an example.
It used to be a competition to brag about how many countries we had been to in a year, flying around the world at many hundreds of miles an hour in the search of some distraction from the mundane.
When I was younger, I didn’t understand how much beauty was waiting on my doorstep. So in my late teens, I worked long hours at the weekends and after school to save money for exotic adventures. Climbing Kilimanjaro in Africa, cruising on the rivers of Vietnam, chasing after cowboys in Arkansas and banqueting in rural China.
Of course, I had some wonderful and exciting experiences. But, to be honest, the things that have stuck with me most from these travels aren’t what you might expect:
Running back to my hostel in a rain storm, breathing into the neck of a gentle mare, or laying on my back to watch the clouds drift. Dancing beneath the sunshine as the street musicians played their guitars, or riding a rusty bicycle next to the rice fields.
These small moments where I stopped thinking about where I would go next, and just allowed myself to admire the beauty of nature, have been the most valuable moments in my life.
I don’t see the famous tourist attractions (natural or man-made) when I look back on the moments of pure magic in my life. I just see these little moments of genuine connection to nature, when I stopped trying to show off about the places I had been and started quietly soaking up the little details that made the earth so beautiful.
I have realised, just like so many people are realising, that what I was seeking across the globe could be found much closer to home. We don’t have to fly half way across the world to find beauty, or meaning, or connection.
We can find them right here where we are, we just need to open our eyes!
But we forget to see what’s right in front of us. We become too distracted by day to day life. Work, kids, responsibilities… we think it’s better to work really hard to save lots of money to escape for a couple of weeks a year to a foreign beach or rainforest where we can be amazed.
But there is wander just waiting to be discovered on our doorsteps.
Kayaking along the local river with the one you love, feeding the birds in the city park, or camping beneath the stars of your mother land can bring just as much joy and excitement as doing it on the other side of the world.
Of course, it’s okay if you want to travel further afield.
But I realize that all the carbon intensive and expensive travelling I have done personally, was because I was searching for a sense of connection or wildness that I could have found in Europe, or even in the UK, if I wasn’t so distracted saving money and booking flights to far flung cities that I couldn’t pronounce.
As people have become increasingly concerned with the way they interact with mother earth, micro-adventures have become more and more popular. This is brilliant for mental health and for the planet! (As I always go on about, the two of them are inextricably linked!)
Instead of using travel to escape a life that I don’t feel at home in, I now focus on building a life I don’t want to escape from.
That doesn’t mean NO travel, but it does mean slow travel. It means that I stopped taking flights and started exploring the places local to me. I have been astounded, time and time again, by the world of adventures waiting right where I had been trying to fly away from.
Sleeping beneath the stars in your local forest, cooking dinner on a campfire, swimming in a lake or taking a picnic out to the mountains. The little adventures are often the ones that touch us the most.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Wherever you are reading it, I wish you all the health and happiness in the world. xox
You might also like to read:
- How to Travel Without Any Money
- The Inseparable Health Of People And The Earth
- How To Reason With Idiots: The ‘Truth’ About the COVID Vaccine
And if you enjoyed reading this, you could also consider reading the Highly Sensitive Nomad Book.
You can subscribe to the blog below. I talk about low-impact living, slow travel, nature bathing, and mental health (particularly for sensitive people like me.)