In the month of May, I participated in the David Suzuki Foundation’s 30×30 Nature Challenge. The foundation challenged Canadians to spend 30 minutes a day in nature for 30 days in May. I missed the last 3 days of the challenge, so I am writing to share my experience of getting outside – for at least half an hour – 27 days in a row.
I realized that walking is a wonderful way to get around.
I grew up in the suburbs – where things tend to be further apart – so I grew up driving to most of the places that I wanted to go. As an adult, I have struggled with a tendency to try to do too much, and getting somewhere faster had always seemed like a better way to get more done, so I kept driving places.
In May, I walked places instead. Walking, in this case, wasn’t just a longer way of getting somewhere – it was accomplishing my nature time. But over the course of the month, walking became less about accomplishing and more about enjoying. Walking, for me, is a more peaceful and enjoyable way to move through the world around me. As cliché as it sounds, I now see walking as an opportunity to really enjoy the process of getting somewhere, as an opportunity to soften my focus on the destination and enjoy the journey.
I learned a lot about my neighbourhood.
A teacher I’ve studied with once said, “If you are on a tricycle, you are more aware of things than if you are in a Ferrari.”
In the month of May, I experienced firsthand the truth of this idea. Walking and spending more time outside in my neighbourhood allowed me to learn about it in new and different ways. I know the green spaces. I know the tree lined streets. Places that used to seem far away now seem a lot closer.
With the speed of a car – or even a bike – it is always important to watch where you are going. Walking around the neighbourhood or sitting in a green space affords you the opportunity to more fully be where you are.
I gained a deeper appreciation for the way that nature lifts my spirit and nurtures my well-being.
I remember one Sunday in particular during the challenge. It was a grey rainy day, and my partner and I were puttering around at home. If it weren’t for the challenge, we would have puttered the day away. But, both being the type to take commitment (very) seriously, we strapped on our rain gear and headed out to Shaughnessy Park.
We had a fantastic time being out and about. Sure, we got a little wet, but our spirits were lifted, our smiles were wide, and our hearts were warm.
On this day, I said to my partner, “I want to keep doing this – I can feel how important it is. I want to continue to actively and regularly seek time in nature when the challenge is over.”
In a nutshell, participating in the 30×30 Nature Challenge taught me important things about how I want to live my life. I am grateful to the David Suzuki Foundation for organizing and promoting this event – so grateful, that I became a monthly donor to the organization at the beginning of June!