• Liz Lucas

An Ode to Nature

We have to walk in the rain, we have to walk through a river and have wet boots all day, the elevation gain is how much? How long of a hike is it? All of these thoughts came flooding through our heads as we traveled to the very wet west side of New Zealand. Sure, we love hiking but we don’t love being wet and soggy for hours. For those hours of driving through the windy rainy terrain made us really question what the heck we are doing. In those hours we quickly forget the joy of hiking and walking with and through nature. Nature is the purest and most natural thing that is. We forgot that putting our boots on the soil gives us a connection to the most powerful thing in this world, connection to the thing that gives us life.

We put on our dry boots, sling our packs on our backs with rain protection and head for this 7-hour walk. We come up the first hazard 2 minutes in, URG a river, we have to directly get wet and stay wet for the rest of the hike. We go through the safety procedures of crossing a river and just get in there up past our knees. We have done it, we have committed to sopping through the rest of the day feeling the water from both directions, walking through rivers and feeling the skies open as the rain comes down.

As many of us are annoyed with the situation, nature brings out its beauties and we all change perspective and lean in to what it is providing us. It is allowing us to see the moss soaking up the rain from above and letting it drip down the side of the mountain in a beautiful shower. It shows up the power and length of a true waterfall both in the distance and right next to the trail. It reminds us that the dirt under our feet can both stabilize us and throw us off balance as it binds and gets slippery as the water seeps in. We touch the trees as we move along the trail and it leaves it’s mark on us turning our hands slightly red. Then right as we finish the hike we are welcomed by a shelter an the promise of a natural hot spring.

We struggle to remove the wet boots and socks, peel off our clothes, slip in to a bathing suit, hustle to the hot water and hop right in. Oh wow is nature amazing. We are sitting in ancient water that has been heated by mantle and risen through a crack in earths crust. As the rain still lightly falls we are so warm in the water. Life in this moment could not be better! Sitting in good company, taking in the waterfalls in the distance, I sat there just appreciating every step of the day, appreciating the amazingness that nature has provided.

These experiences give me such a reality check. I get caught in the bustle of every day life just as we all do and I forget to breathe and just BE, what does it mean to just be in the present moment not having feelings related to the past or future? It is a simple concept that is so easily lost. I must consciously go through a practice where I physically feel the ground under my feet, feel the air on my skin, the sounds from around. This process takes approximately 3 seconds and can change the whole mood of the day!

So what’s the point? What distractions are taking a center stage that deserve to stay in the cellar? Are there things we are not appreciating anymore, or simple practices we are neglecting “because we don’t have time”. In the moment where we can’t think straight, we don’t know what to do as a player on the field, an employee at work we can take the 3 seconds to feel the ground under our feel take a deep breath and get ourselves back to the present moment. After all, that is all we have, right here and right now, this moment, nothing else counts. Be courageous and appreciate the present moment!

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