Rationale for a Little Trip Down the Slow Lane
When I ask people I meet in my travels around the world where they find their health and their inspiration for life, the vast majority reference walking, running, swimming, fishing, gardening, biking, even golf—almost always something that has to do with being active in an outdoor setting. As a species, we have been hunters and gatherers ninety nine times longer than we havebeen city dwellers. It is reasonable, then, when asked where they go to return to their senses that people should talk about slamming the door and heading straight outside. In fact, it’s only natural.
My favorite quote of all time is from Nancy Newhall: “Wilderness has the answers to questions we have not yet learned how to ask.” Great isn’t it? In a time when society is so full of empty answers, it becomes the questions that are precious. Spend time in nature and you are guaranteed to strike the mother lode. In Zen tradition, it is called ‘beginner’s mind’, a child-like awareness that every moment of life is a sparkling jewel, a precious opportunity, if only we dare to look. As DH Lawrence wrote, “For man, the vast marvel is to be alive. For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive…. We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive and in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos.”
”Here’s a good question: How do we get to feel that aliveness more often?
Health science reminds us we are what we eat. A human body built on jelly doughnuts comes, over time, to resemble a jelly doughnut. Gelatinous. Doughy. The human soul is not that different. Feed our soul junk food, we tend to get junked up. Feed our soul vast vistas, snow capped peaks and thundering rivers, we begin to feel clear as a mountain stream, endless as a blue sky. Not only is it true we become what we eat, we become where we eat. Whether we consume our meals off a tray table in front of a television, on the run, in the front seat of a car, or on a mossy ledge among wildflowers overlooking an alpine lake, we become like the environments we frequent. Where do you want to eat today?
Every member of the First Nations knew it. All our greatest poets and spiritual teachers knew it. It just may be us who have forgotten. The secret of making the best people is to spend as much time in wild nature as possible.
In a time of fast companies selling fast food for fast profit, there could never be a better time for a road trip – or better yet a foot trip – down the slow lane.
As my hero John Muir wrote: “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
A walk in the woods may not give you all the answers you want. But I bet you will discover all the questions you need.
~By Jeff Salz
Jeff Salz is a 30 year veteran of adventuring and exploring around the globe. As a guest adventure expert for the CBS Early Morning Show, and the creator and star of adventure specials for the Discovery Channel, Jeff has become a recognized television personality. Mr. Salz has a PhD in cultural anthropology and a Masters Degree in experiential education. He is an authority on authentic cultures and the author of the best selling book entitled, The Way of Adventure. For more information about Jeff, surf up his web site at www.wayofadventure.com.