I probably can count on one hand how many times I’ve been camping outdoors. Even after 12 years of Girl Scouts, I just didn’t see the point. Nature was not appealing to me beyond the beach, and forests brought to mind all sorts of memories from insect bites to cold rainy nights. Although I’ve never been a girly girl, there are certain accommodations to which I’ve grown accustomed. I never saw the point of sleeping outside when I have a warm bed and colorful room at home. I also didn’t understand the need to spend an abundance of time in nature, when there were so many other interesting activities to preoccupy the human mind.
But with age comes wisdom and new perspectives. Thus, I find myself years later falling in love with nature and realizing I truly missed out. It’s the ability to disconnect from everyday life that appeals to me when I’m sleeping surrounded by trees and few people. It’s when Facebook doesn’t matter, my Blackberry is defunct, and how easily I can hear myself think without distractions. It’s when I can see how beautiful untouched land really is, the power of natural waterfalls, and the advantages of swimming in non-manmade waters. I feel my skin glowing under the sun, soaking in the minerals of the water, and breathing in the breeze. It’s only in nature that my mind rests from the pressures of “success,” and I feel the return of humility. I recognize that I’m just a small part of the vast earth and my stress is trivial.
At times, I wonder why I don’t see many black women exploring nature. If I go on a hike or camping trip, I rarely see brown faces. And frankly, I don’t understand why when so many of us could use a break. Of course, there are cons to exploring the outdoors beyond the beach, which include bug bites and weather mishaps. But coming from someone who hates the sight of insects, despises mosquito bites, and isn’t a big fan of rain, it’s all worth it for the opportunity to receive peace of mind.
Whether I’m zip lining between trees or swimming underneath a waterfall, there’s something about feeling my adrenaline as an energetic force coming from within. When it’s just you, the sky, the wind, and the putter of your heart, you feel the moment more than any thoughts about the future. Time ceases to matter, as the sun becomes your reference for the day passing by. You simply feel thankful to experience life uninhibited. And you laugh loudly because there are no social rules about what’s an acceptable level of excitement. The wind is there to absorb your fears.
While traveling has provided numerous opportunities to see the diversity of landscapes and terrains on earth, there’s one thing that’s constant, whether I’m looking at mountains in New Jersey or watching the flow of rivers in Brazil. The peace is the same. There’s something magical about the outdoors, and I wish more of us would give it a chance.
Are you a fan of spending time outdoors? Do you enjoy camping, outdoor sports, or nature beyond the beach? Speak on it!