Project Emily Advent: Day 10

Project Emily Advent: Day 10

Describe your relationship with the outdoors.

I loved camping as a child. My parents took us camping regularly, sometimes with several other families, sometimes with only my grandparents. The days were structured with the perfect balance of scheduled activities and free time to do whatever I wished. We took hikes and did other activities as a group, but there was also plenty of time to get bored, wander off, look around, read a book, play a board game, take a nap, ride a bike. Camping felt so peaceful, so easy. Now I understand that the ease of those camping trips was provided primarily by the mothers who planned, shopped, packed, cooked, and cleaned up after us, but that’s another blog post.

For me, camping did not usually mean a great adventure, it mostly meant taking the normal, everyday activities of life, outside. Anything you can do inside, I’d almost always rather do outside. I want to sleep outside, read outside, eat outside, rest outside, think outside. I don’t need some difficult quest wherein I test the limits of my body in grand physical feats. Simply put, I do not want to do outside, I want to be outside.

Especially in water. Not really doing much, not really going anywhere. Not playing or racing or venturing. Just floating. Just observing. There is nowhere in the world that I would rather be than submerged in water. I’m not actually a water sign, but an earth sign, which I almost feel like explains my love of water even more ostensibly; it’s the very source of life to me— I cannot thrive without it.

I am always perplexed when I find myself on a hike with people who seem to be in such a great hurry. Some people seem to have a deep need to conquer the outdoors, they want to get to the destination as quickly, and with as little heavy breathing, as possible. It seems to be a welcome test of their strength. They rise to the occasion of the battle and end up victorious. They seem to say: I am stronger than this trail, this mountain, this river. I can respect this sort of relationship with nature, even if it doesn’t resonate with me.

I don’t want to conquer nature, I want to be swallowed by it. I want to bathe in it. I want to be so enveloped in it that I lose all sense of my little self and my little problems. I want to be just one more creature in the vast span of God’s creation and feel just how unalone I really am. I don’t think of myself as insignificant in these moments. Quite the opposite. It’s in the vastness of the natural world that I feel most at home, with every other intricately woven and perfectly placed creature, I am sure that I am equally as in-place, and as on-purpose.

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No joke.