I was running on Centennial Trail the other day and I found this really peaceful place along the riverbank. While I was running I was listening to some music to motivate me, but I when I found this spot I sat down and turned off my music. As soon as I hit pause it was as if I had entered an entirely different world. Though I had lost a certain sense of energy and drive, I was almost immediately flooded with an overwhelming sense of peace and comforting joy.
One of the things that concerns me about our society is how much we distract ourselves. It seems backwards to me that we check social media, watch tv, and browse our phones when we want to relax. These types of activities are designed to essentially distract our brains so much that we can kind of just shut life out and turn off our minds. It makes a lot more sense to me to find peace by becoming present to the world. The world is actually a pretty peaceful place and I don’t think that the world is the problem at all. In my opinion, we’re the problem because we all have this unhealthy tendency to settle for imitations of reality. One of the things I hated most about having social media were those times when I’d get home from work and spend an hour or so browsing through Facebook and Instagram posts. It felt a lot like reality while I was browsing, and it felt a lot like I was peacefully unwinding … then I’d finally put my phone down and realize that my brain was in some kind of weird alternate universe that was totally separate from the actual world around me.
I’m excited for spring and summer because I’ll be able to spend some time in nature. I’ll be able to hike and bike or even just sit and watch a sunrise or a sunset. Nature isn’t my escape, it’s actually the place I go to become present. It’s not about shutting the world out, it’s about letting it in. I’ve never gone into nature and come home feeling like I was in some kind of weird alternate universe that was totally separate from the actual world around me. Most of the time I get back and realize that before I know it I’ll slip back into an unhealthy imitation of reality.
Next time you find yourself wanting some peace, I encourage you to find a way to be present rather than seeking distraction. Maybe it’s in nature, maybe it’s in a conversation with a friend, maybe it’s in writing a blog post, but whatever it is I can guarantee that you won’t regret it.