Walks In The Park

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“When seeking solitude, there is no better place than nature.”

With the constant temptations of technology, the Internet, endless entertainment options, and other distractions, it is all too easy nowadays to get caught up in work, school, and other commitments without ever taking time for yourself. It’s been scientifically and medically proven that your body and your mind need some time away from your daily stressors. It doesn’t have to be a long amount of time for solitude away from your home, or your workplace but just enough minutes or hours where you can re-charge your energy and re-capture your focus. When it comes to seeking out solitude and alone time, our options these days are becoming increasingly limited.

Some people choose yoga classes while other folks enjoy long workouts at the gym. While these activities in particular are healthy and enjoyable, they do not provide true solitude and quietness. Meditation can clear your head and allow you to control your thoughts better but it is not an active form of peace and serenity. For myself, to enjoy solitude, quiet, and a place to think; nothing truly beats a simple walk in the park for an hour or two. Clearly, I am not the first person to advocate for the joys and benefits of being in nature.

Henry David Thoreau, considered to be “the father of nature writing”, wrote many books including the famous novel, Walden, a reflection on the simplicities of living among nature in his cabin near Walden Pond in rural Massachusetts. In addition, his friend and fellow writer Ralph Waldo Emerson helped found the Transcendentalist movement partly due to the independence and intellectual stimulation, which he received from his retreats into the world of nature.

Whether you’re walking, jogging, running, or hiking in the park, it is going to be highly beneficial to you and your state of mind. It’s okay if you do it with a friend or a family member but it’s even better to do it by yourself. Taking a walk in the park or in the local nature preserve will allow you to clarify your thoughts, experience some solitude, and enjoy the world around you.

When you heed my advice from this blog post and decide to go for a walk in the park, remember to take the following steps before you go through with this idea:

  • Leave the iPhone, iPad, Laptop, MP3 player, and any other modern technological device at home. I know it can be really tempting to check your Twitter account or listen to the new Action Bronson album, but when you’re taking a walk through the park, this course of action is highly inadvisable. You’re there to observe nature, to listen to the birds’ chirping, to hear the bees buzzing, and to see the flowers begin to bloom in the springtime sunshine. If you wanted to be with your technological gadgets, the park is not the place to do that.
  • In the park or place of nature you go to, remember to find a part of the park that doesn’t have many or any people around. I write this piece of advice not to encourage you to be anti-social but to embrace a little bit of solitude in your life. A walk in the park will help you to focus your thoughts and clarify what you’re going through in your life. It’s refreshing and natural for people to be truly alone from time to time. This doesn’t mean you’re lonely and need someone to hang out with but that you’re using this walk or run in the park to concentrate and focus on the simple act of being in nature. Our distant ancestors did fine for themselves when they were on their own to hunt for animals or to gather food for their tribe. I think that you can survive on your own for an hour or two without needing any assistance or companionship.
  • When you’re on your walk or run in the park, it is important to go off the beaten path. There are set pathways and trails that you can follow in nature but it’s very enjoyable to go outside of your comfort zone instead by trying out new paths or walkaways that you have yet to discover. If there are certain areas of the park or preserve that you haven’t been to yet, go there! If there’s a massive hill or body of water in your path, don’t be afraid to hike over it or swim through it. The best adventures that a person can have are by taking the road not yet discovered or taken and that is true for other facets of life. Try to see and be in the new areas of the park that you haven’t been to yet. I promise that you won’t regret it later. You will be glad that you expanded your perception that you have of the natural park or preserve that you’re walking or running through.
  • Last but not least, please remember to take it all in. Spend some time just to admire the beauty of the sights that lie before you. If its’ a towering waterfall, a captivating sunset, or a stunning hillside view, remember to stop and just be present in the moment. It will be so quiet that you can hear the beating of your own heart and the sound of your own breath. You’re apart of nature just as nature is apart of you. As much as we try to avoid nature and natural living today, it’s still apart of whom we are as human beings. Nothing will change that and its’ apart of our nature since the early days of the hunter-gatherers. You only have one life to live and the more time you spend in natural settings, the better off you’ll be.

In conclusion, instead of that Sunday afternoon you spend at the bar watching your favorite sports team or at home catching up on the latest Netflix series, why not go to your local park instead? Do some walking or some jogging and eventually rest your legs to sit down at the nearest park bench. Take in the sights, sounds, and even the smells to remind yourself that there is more to life than just work or school. You’re apart of this world and the world is apart of you.

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The Limits of Perception

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“Do you see what I see?”

“Perception” is an interesting word when you think deeply about it. No, I’m not just talking about your two eyes, and the vision that allows you to perceive the world visually. In other words, we can only perceive the experiences that we have or had in the past, the people we met, the places we visited and lived in, and the choices that we make or made.

Human beings are mortal which means we have limited time on this Earth to see and experience all that life has to offer. For some people, this is a very frightening and gloomy notion. However, others would see this fact as a way to get the most out of life and expand their perception of the world as much as possible.

A limited “perception” of life and the world has consequences when you think about it. If you don’t have the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes or to imagine or experience life as they do, then your ability to emphasize with them would be diminished. Yes, you can have sympathy for their plights or jubilation for their successes but you wouldn’t be able to connect with them on a deeper level.

A consistent problem in human nature is our lack of ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see life as they do. When we are unable to break down barriers between social classes, races, religions, and gender, disagreements and hostilities between these groups is likely to continue. From my perspective and my past travels, the similarities of humans around the world drastically outweigh the differences. That doesn’t mean that these differences are bad or that they should be eliminated. I happen to believe that cultural and social differences are part of what makes humanity unique and should not be demonized.

This leaves the question that my blog readers would wonder to themselves hopefully after reading this entry: How do I expand my perception of life and the world around me? Now, when I ask this question, I do not mean for you to go out to the nearest pharmacy and get yourself some contacts or a pair of prescription glasses.

What I mean and what I believe is that we humans have limited time on Earth and we can’t live forever to experience everything and to meet everybody around the world. However, there are ways to expand this perception by traveling the world, reading books, and meeting different kinds of people. These three concepts are not crazy ideas but rather novel concepts to create greater empathy in yourself and for others along with a more profound view of humanity as a whole.

Traveling has always had the highest return on investment for me and the experiences I have had have helped me view the world in a different way. I know that it’s not feasible for everyone to travel but if you can’t make a huge jump to another country, try to travel to different places and cities within your own country. Learning about the local culture and customs, enjoying the local cuisine, and indulging in the history and background of the society are important for any seasoned traveler.

You will start to view the world in shades of grey rather than pure black and white. You would also learn that cultures and societies are complex and that it takes a lot of time to immerse yourself in its deeper reaches. Most of all, you are communicating in a different language which is fascinating and complex in its own right. Above all else, you are seeing the commonalities and similarities that exist between your family and their family, your town and their town, and your country and their country.

Meeting new people from different backgrounds and places ties into traveling as well but it really makes your perception of the world grow. If you stay in the same town where you grow up and never leave, chances are that you’ll have a limited perception of people and life itself. Talking to different people, hearing their stories, cooking with them, and sharing a meal or drink has many benefits. You may be able to build a friendship that lasts for years even if you don’t speak the same language or come from the same culture.

By hearing their story and listening to them, you expand your own perception of the world and the people who inhabit it. You can get beyond the stereotypes and the clichés and really get into deeper social connections with people, especially in this interconnected world that we all live in.

Lastly, reading books is an integral park for learning about the world and facilitating a deeper perception. As individuals, we cannot experience everything or know everything there is to know. However, by reading about the stories of others who have come before you and who had lived, and died, you will gain greater knowledge and wisdom. Regardless of whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, you’re reading someone’s life story or reading about a subject that spans a part of human history.

Book by book, you are enlightening yourself by learning about the experiences and perceptions of others. By learning about the men and women who have come before you and who have lived exemplary and distinguished lives, you can take lessons from their existence and apply those lessons to your own life. If you can’t travel or meet different kinds of people, reading books by those authors who have and whom shared those unique experiences with their readers is the next best thing.

We all have one live to life, and you can only see what’s right in front of your eyes. Make sure that you continue to give yourself the opportunities and chances to indulge in the knowledge and wisdom that can be gained by expanding your perception of the world and its inhabitants. Travel, read books, and meet different people for as long as you may live. Only then will you gain true enlightenment and wisdom.