Why Spend Time in Nature?

“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

Those of us in Colorado are incredibly fortunate. There are 4 national parks and numerous national forests, each one abundant in wildflowers, wildlife, and wild adventures. Outside of national parks and forests, hiking trails and beautiful landscapes still abound. 

I had the opportunity last week to explore a landscape that I’d never seen before. I had three hours of time to kill and didn’t want to waste the 60 degree December weather, because it could be the last warmer day until May. I headed over to the Devil’s Backbone trail in the foothills of the Rockies. It was an easy trail, and usually is “heavily trafficked” according to most people. But this day, the parking lot was empty and the chatter of people was replaced by the singing of birds. 

But I made a costly error: on this beautiful day, I grabbed my camera and my watch and used this beautiful scene of nature as a photoshoot. And let me say: I don’t know a thing about photography. I don’t know what makes some pictures better than others, let alone what makes a product shoot good. I don’t even know how to focus the dang thing. 

Devil's Backbone Open Space in Loveland, Colorado

As I walked through the trail, the sun glistening around the rocks and grass surrounding me, my focus wasn’t on appreciating the magnificence of the world around me. I wasn’t feeling gratitude towards the beautiful weather or the marvelous scenery; instead, I was frustrated that I can’t take the perfect picture that portrays the watch as I see it. Every step I took was a step further away from my daily life, but with each step I carried my worries with me. I was so blinded by myself and my problems that I couldn’t see their insignificance. 

Does it matter if I can’t take the perfect picture of a Woodland watch? No. Absolutely not. 

The Woodland in the forefront with the Rocky Mountains in the distance

We tend to catastrophize the problems we have. I don’t mean serious problems - I mean the problems you won’t remember in a week. But our days are filled with these micro problems that can easily consume us. 

But nature is a way to escape that and to see with greater clarity. When the mountains become your office and the trees become your coworkers, life becomes simple. Daily stress loses its grip on you. 

There’s only one thing we need to do: be where our feet are. 

It’s not a time to worry about work, or social status, or bills. It’s a time to let go and observe the beautiful, unfathomable world that we’re living in. We aren’t supposed to carry our problems everywhere we do. 

Problems at work are for work.

Problems at home are for home.

Problems at school are for school. 

When we step outside and see what we can’t even comprehend, our problems retreat out of our attention. 

We are more than the sum of our highest highs and lowest lows. There is purpose in each and every one of our lives. But too often, we get stuck in our daily bubble that we don’t see life beyond the mundane. Think about it: we work for 8 hours a day, come home, “relax” by watching Netflix, go to bed and do the same thing the next day. And each day, we look eagerly towards the weekend, counting how many days we have to grind away until we get two days of freedom. We’re comfortable seeing the same building, the same people, and the same cars while never asking what more is there to life. We’re comfortable being comfortable. Everyone is to an extent. But there’s more to life than our daily bubble - a whole world more. Neale Donald Walsche famously said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Nature is a catalyst for seeing Walsche’s view. It enables our adventurous spirit to work within us when we see the splendor of the earth and all the creatures that inhabit it. When we stand atop a mountain and see the world below us, we are urged to see what else the world, and our lives, have in store for us. 

There’s an abundance. An abundance of beauty and of the unknown; of wondering and wandering. But we don’t make time to see the world. We don’t value nature enough to see the vastness of the unknown that puts a perspective on life we’ve never seen before.

But we should.

All four miles of that hike went to waste. Sure, I got a couple good pictures, but I missed out on the experience of seeing something new and appreciating another day on this beautiful earth.

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