Nature is Irresistible

Today I unexpectedly found a very important tie-in between one of my favorite blogs (Zen Habits, which is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of life) and neoNaturalist.com’s mission of connecting people to Nature.

The premise of the Zen Habits post  How to Be Irresistible at Any Age is that in order to be irresistible, you must express and live your own authentic character.  And guess what?

The first tip for living authentically is to learn from Nature.  Its great advice since people and Nature are so inimately intertwined.  The other six items are also activities that can be learned from studying and reflecting on Nature.

Here is a quote from the Zen Habits post by guest blogger Christopher Foster of The Happy Seeker:

“If you want to be irresistible, what better place to start than studying nature? Nature doesn’t seem to find it hard to be irresistible. Whether nature is being a daffodil, a tree, a hurricane, or the roar in a lion’s throat, it simply IS irresistible.”

Nature is irresistible, and so are you.  Read the post here:   How to Be Irresistible at Any Age. Then, get outside and explore Nature!

 

 

6 reasons to hike daily

A small waterfall in Sand Run MetroPark, Summit County, Ohio

Lots of little surprises await you along the trail.

Who doesn’t love a good hike? Fresh air, singing birds, sunshine. What’s not to love? But are you a fair weather hiker? What about the dreary overcast days? What about drizzle and snow and cold? Mud? What fun is that?

There are lots of good reasons to hike in Nature every single day. If you take on the habit of hiking, whether the weather is sun or rain, here’s what you might stand to gain:

 

 

  1. Deepening connection to Nature
  2. People are part of Nature.   We don’t always remember that, but it is undeniably true. Putting your feet on a trail and immersing yourself in your local wilderness will automatically put you into a place of innate comfort.   The more often you visit natural settings, the more you will feel the connection to Nature. Daily hiking will give you a much more holistic view of the world and yourself.  Try it.  Feel it.   You’ll love it. You’ll love you more than you already do.

  3. Friends you’ve never met
  4. When you casually hike, it is most likely to be on a nice day when the benefits are obvious. The people around are more likely to be causal hikers as well. There may be many hikers crowding a popular trail like the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. They are probably mostly very nice people you would love to meet and talk with. However, when you hike regardless of weather, rain, snow, cold, warm, you are more likely to meet other people who are devoted to Nature. Beyond this sort of “natural selection,” the trails are less crowded and more relaxed on less attractive days. That provides an easier opportunity for conversation with friends you haven’t met yet.

  5. Better Physical Health
  6. We always hear statistics about how cardiovascular health is improved though exercises such as walking or hiking. It just makes too much sense to ignore this fact. Get outside and get healthy. You’ll lose weight and have more energy.  Your heart will thank you.  Your loved ones will thank you.

  7. More Brainpower
  8. It is impossible to be surrounded by nature for any length of time and not learn something about your environment or yourself. Usually you learn about both on a hike. You might see a wildflower you’ve never seen before. Maybe you will be curious about what trees are around and you will develop an interest in tree identification. Maybe you will see an insect like a walking stick or leaf litter beetle and you will observe it and learn why it happens to be in that particular spot. Maybe you will reflect on Nature and realize why you are in the particular spot you are in life. Over time these reflections will add up and will influence your thinking in other areas of life. A walk in the woods is a serious education.

  9. A regular chance to Recharge and Unwind
  10. Life is always moving at a faster pace in human society. Smart phones, PDA’s, the internet, and other technology keeps us “always on.” There seems to be a prevailing attitude that we must do things better, faster, and in more volume to get ahead in the world. Let me tell you, nothing that is not in accordance with Nature can last long. The Tao Te Ching points out that high winds do not last all day, yet it seems like our society requires us to run faster and faster with fewer and fewer breaks not just all day, but day in and day out. Take a close look at Nature. It keeps going at its own pace regardless of our disdain for all things slow.

    The pace of ants climbing on tree trunks has not increased. The number of wingbeats per minute for a ruby throated hummingbird has not increased. They go on living as Nature or God intended.

    Water flows no faster in a natural stream than it did a century ago. A leaf falling from the top of an oak does not reach the ground any faster in these hectic times. Why would people be any different?

    We aren’t. An unnatural pace cannot be sustained. Whatever is contrary to Nature will not endure. That is a universal law that we cannot ignore. Use some of your finite time each day to observe the infinite Nature while hiking and maybe, just maybe, it will allow you to unwind, relax, and attune your body and mind to the natural pace of life once more.

  11. Unpredictable Fun!
  12. If you go to a gym or walk on a track, or swim in a pool, you will get plenty of exercise. Walk on a treadmill, ride your stationary bike. Good exercise, certainly. Nothing wrong with that. Except there is no real excitement to it. Get outside and Hike! You never know what is around each bend in the trail. You might have to straddle a mud hole, dodge a falling branch or evade a snake on the trail. On the more pleasant side, you might see a vibrant bird, hear the haunting tune of the woodthrush in the woods, be entertained by the chattering chipmunks, stumble upon a sleeping fawn, or be dazzled with the intricate flower of an orchid along the trail. Every trail is different every day. There is always something new to see. Animal tracks, scat, newly pecked holes of a yellow-bellied sapsucker in a straight line across a tree trunk.

There is no better way to know yourself and Nature than by hiking every day through all the seasons. I know of no better way to improve your life and your health. Make the time and your life will shine. Now Get Outside and Enjoy! Here are some ideas for great hikes in Ohio.

 

Just what is a neoNaturalist anyhow?

Next week will mark the 7th anniversary of neoNaturalist.com. When the site started out I just wanted to provide trail descriptions from a naturalist’s perspective, rather than the bland, “trail is 1.5 miles long and gets muddy when it rains” drivel that you could find on the internet then. The idea was that you could get a naturalist’s perspective 24 hours a day via this relatively new (neo-) electronic medium.

My thinking has evolved from there. So has the site. Most of the traffic used to come from search terms like “ohio trails” or “hiking in Ohio”. Now, the site is indexed and ranks highly for things like “nature terms” (number one out of 294,000,000 results on Google as of this moment), “tree identification” (number 2 out of 1,220,000 right now on Google) or “lucky stones” (Number 7 out of 1,070,000).

As the content shifted more toward Nature, I have begun thinking more and more about the place of humans in Nature and how to connect more closely with Nature. To try to understand my own position and thoughts about Nature, I started writing as a means of introspection on the topic.

That document turned into a bit of a manifesto that clarified for me what the web site is about and what its focus should be. It might have also shifted the way I deliberately think about the world and what I do on a daily basis.

I have decided that rather than keep my personal ideas about Nature to myself, I will share them in hopes that maybe my thoughts will stimulate others to think about their place in Nature and hopefully get a little more connected with the world.

I have posted my “neoNaturalist Manifesto” for download as a PDF here. Take a look and please send me feedback via email to webmaster@neonaturalist.com or via twitter @neoNaturalist.

I hope this is useful to you!

 

Why should Thoreau get all the Marrow?

Are you the water, the trees or the sky? Or, are you the reflections upon the water?

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau (Walden).

To me, living deliberately means to live life with your mind wide open. Understand life, Nature, and where you fit in. Too many times people live on autopilot. They awaken to the sound of an alarm clock because they must be at their workplace at an arbitrarily set standard time. They drink coffee (or my favorite, Mountain Dew) to give them the strength to meet their day. They eat lunch at noon because that is when everyone else does it. They work 40 or 60 hours per week because it is expected and because they need the money to live. They arrive home overwhelmed and exhausted. They watch TV until going to sleep when they start their cycle over again.

In a deliberate life, one in tune with reality, we would awaken to the sound of birds singing after just the right amount of sleep. We would be ready to do our thing without caffeine or the electronic coaxing of an alarm. We would rise early in the summer and sleep later in winter. Humans are to some extent keyed in to light cycles and the seasons. We would eat when we were hungry. If we think it out, we would be much better off to acknowledge that fact and then live that way.


Think about the way we eat. I can get berries at just about any time of the year. In the spring, the strawberries are the best. They are locally grown, fresh and in season. I can get them the rest of the year. But, they have been picked too early in order to keep them “fresh” through a long shipment. They don’t taste quite the same. Something is not quite right. A life lived by default is the same way.

You may be able to show up at work the same time day in and day out. You may be able to go thorough the motions. Wouldn’t you rather do things in their proper season and savor them all the more because of that? A Winter strawberries just aren’t that good.

Understanding how we fit into Nature, how our natural inclinations interact with and fit into the cycle of things, allows us to live more deliberately. Don’t accept someone else’s version of reality just because it is there. Do some hard work of your own. Explore a ravine. Hike a trail. Sit in a cold stream. Feel how these experiences change you. Think about why. What do you learn? A Where do you fit into it all? A We each have our own path through Nature. We either know it and live it, or we are lost.

What is your path?

Once you know. Live from that place of knowledge. Live a life consistent with your internal compass. Don’t listen to what others say you should do. Do what you know to be right. That is the way of Nature, and humans are an integral part of Nature. By virtue of being you, you have the right to reach your full potential.

Now get outside and get to know yourself and your own Nature. Then, live it deliberately.