October is perhaps the greatest possible hiking month of them all . . . the leaves, the crispness in the air, the return of your favorite layers and autumn flavored treats. And yet, this October I managed only one great escape; a measly urban adventure just blocks away from my downtown home.
Why all this trail avoidance? Well, this year, the shift in seasons also brought with it the long enduring storm know as GRADUATE SCHOOL. While already working full-time in a clinical practice, I had the great idea that now would be an excellent opportunity to finally pursue the master’s degree I’ve dreamed of for years. Last month I officially embarked on this grad school journey, which truly will be a great adventure in itself. Needless to say, with full-time work and full-time school, I’m full-time swamped. The days of far away drives and weekends spent in awe are gone, and I’m definitely feeling the growing pains.
I’ve neglected the commitment I made to the trails, and in a whole lot of ways, I’ve neglected myself too. For a class assignment this week, I was required to complete a personality test. This test was designed to show the strengths and learning preferences each test taker possesses. The results of this assessment by far determined that I am a nature-based learner, and that I learn best through the incorporation of outdoor activities . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . especially hiking! And yet, there I was- tethered down to my computer, learning these things that I already so innately know to be true, rather than rolling my boots through a crunchy leaf-covered path with the autumn sun warming my heart.
This strength in nature, also came with a strong tendency away from “strength in numbers;" reaffirming instead my inclination towards meditation, reflection, and mindfulness practices. This is no surprise, especially since hiking for me has such a strong mindfulness component. The trail has always been my teacher; constantly introducing my senses, systems, and thoughts to new information and experiences. It has always been my trusted colleague; able to hear me rehash the day, an encounter, a presentation, or an inspired thought, all without judgment or constraint. Over time, the trail has also become my microscope; allowing me to strip away the macro excess and focus minutely on the importance of an innovative idea, the details of a relationship, and the finely pointed direction of my life’s journey.
Even as I write this, I have an urge of guilt for not spending this time more wisely; for not embracing the last bits of autumn that is otherwise sweeping me by, and even more so, for not focusing my written attention towards the next grad school assignment that will be due in just a few short days. And yet, the irony of ironies is that this upcoming assignment is on the topic of the fundamental importance of PLAY. Yes, PLAY; that very thing that I have held myself back from for this entire month, and the very thing that often gets pushed aside whenever we become pinched for time or resources.
So the assignment I have decided to give myself for next month, is to break free from theory and cognitive pursuits and get back to the practice of full-living adventure. I need to play. I need to be in the great outdoors. And based on my assessment, it looks like I may be able to learn even more because of it! Of course I will continue to work and study, these components cannot be shut out of life either. But rather than living in extremes, I will aim to invite more balance into each week, and more play into each day.
Comment below to share how you build adventure into your busy week.
At Adventures in Oneyearland, you don't need to be a pro to have a passion for the great outdoors, all you need is a plan to get you there.