Taller Than the Trees

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.”

-Henry David Thoreau

This quote from Thoreau encapsulates a profound idea and way of life in just a few simple words. Nature is a great way to relieve stress, whether it’s accomplished simply by taking a short walk in the woods outside your house by yourself or a two-week long camping trip surrounded by family and friends.

It saddens me that many people are not a fan of the outdoors. I’ve heard reasons from “too many bugs” to “it feels better inside,” and I still struggle to understand why someone could not be a fan of nature.

Sure, being outside can be the opposite of relaxing. Spider bites hurt, and flipping a kayak may cause a bit of a panic – but the downsides of nature are nothing compared to the upsides on ones' well being. There’s nothing quite like standing (or in my case, tripping and flailing around) in a creek, feeling the water take away your anxieties as it moves along.

For me, nature creates peace in every way, shape, and form. I can be beyond stressed or anxious, and the second I step onto a trail, I feel all of the tension in my mind and body slip away. Even getting in my car knowing that my destination is in the mountains is enough to make me relax

photo by www.cassellscreations.com.

I have always considered myself to be an outdoorsy person with hobbies pertaining to nature (kayaking, hiking, etc.), but as I have aged, I have noticed my deep love for nature does not stem from the fun activities I relate to it but rather that all my troubles seem to disappear whilst I am surrounded by tall trees and flowing streams.

When thinking of fond memories, my most prominent ones are based around being outside. I think of catching salamanders with my cousins at my uncle’s homemade campground, and I think of all the times my childhood friends and I slept in my treehouse, fighting off the moths and mosquitoes because we were having too much fun of a time to surrender indoors. I think of letting go of the rope swing into the frigid February river and the time I caught my first fish in that same spot.

I know it may sound as though being outside is merely a hobby for me, but I can promise that there’s so much more to this fascination. Each of these times in my memories (and those that I continue to make), my mind is free –free of stress from school, relationships, and inner anxieties. My problems slip into the back of my mind, and often, when I travel back into the “real world,” my time outside makes my problems seem less difficult as I originally thought them to be.

Clearing one’s head by spending time in nature is a perfect way to take a step back and look at a situation and whatever problems/stress need solving or resolving, henceforth leaving nature with a mindset that is “taller than the trees.”

Nature is free. Everyone has the ability to go outside and free their minds. I encourage anyone and everyone to give it a try. Go get some fresh air - whether it’s walking outside of your dorm for a few minutes to hiking in Table Rock, your mind and body will appreciate the freeing feeling you give them.