Ahhh mindfulness, being present, being one with it all. We are in charge of our thoughts and actions. We choose to “be here now” all the time. We quote the Buddha on our Facebook page with thoughtful abandon. #zen
And oh wow don't forget about nature, you guys. The peace it brings makes us feel so connected-- to the earth, to the trees, to every living being, to that other random hiker we pass, to everything anywhere, ever. We are one. #namaste
This is just another boring, repetitive, trite, tepid, typical blog post about mindfulness and nature. You’ve read them. I’ve read them. Hell, I’ve written them.
But let’s be honest, it’s a lot more complicated than all that. Mindfulness is hard. The world is crowded, and cruel, and crude. It’s a struggle day in and day out just to barely “stay present,” let alone make it to bed without killing someone (metaphorically speaking). Quotes from buddha are great, but those positive vibes quickly evaporate when the guy in front of you drives 2 mph and won’t use his turn signal.
Nature is lovely and all too, but let's be honest, it’s also dirty, and violent, and dangerous. Grizzly bears, rattlesnakes, rock slides, rip tides, and freakin lava. All the cool stuff requires a 6 hour drive to see, and when you finally get there there’s a traffic jam. They don’t paint pictures or post Instagram photos of those parts of nature, but they’re just as real.
When we’re stressed out and agitated, we “step outside to take a breath of fresh air.” It’s the mindfulness and nature cocktail many of us so idyllically crave. But how about in those westerns when this get into a bar fight and say “you wanna step outside?!”
Going outside doesn’t always bring you an easy peace, just as mindfulness isn’t always such an easy choice.
So maybe this isn’t another boring typical blog post about mindfulness and nature. Maybe this is the one that’s going to admit that sometimes life sucks and mindfulness is a chore.
I’ve been writing this blog for about 4 years now, but it feels like forever. If you think achieving mindfulness is difficult, try writing about it. I’m generally optimistic in life, but that doesn't mean I'm immune to a good old fashioned downward spiral once in awhile. Sometimes, maybe too often, I struggle with motivation, I get distracted by technology, I spend too much time thinking instead of doing. It’s grounding, but not very centering to have a submission to publication denied or a friend disparage your work. And since we’re talking about downward spirals, the 2016 election was like dumping sewage into a centrifuge. It's hard to stay mindful and hopeful and kind and motivated when the news swirling around you is anything but.
I write my best stuff and make best personal progress when I'm staying mindful. Nature is a regular catalyst to that end. I sit down at that granite peak or the cool misty waterfall, I feel the feels, write a millions words, and smile.
Other times though, not so much. I go on a hike and no matter how many affirmations I conjure, I can’t stop obsessing over whatever nagging life conundrum is on my mind that day. I get to the waterfall and instead of letting its power wash over me, I look at my phone and typically/eventually/gratuitously check my newsfeed. I stand at the peak, look out over the vista, I’m feeling great, but that fucking fly won’t stop trying to set up shop in my ear hole.
That blog post about mindfulness and nature might be boring and typical, but nothing in your life is. Not your family, your job, your house hunt, your romance, your kids, your aspirations, your hike, your diet, your election, your ridiculous president--none of that is boring or typical.
Mindfulness isn’t boring or typical because it takes practice and determination to achieve. Nature isn’t boring or typical because it’s inherently wild. Nothing in life is boring or typical because everything--every damn thing--is constantly changing.
But no matter how complex it all is, all you can do is keep trying--every damn day.
Relish in the boringly typical reminders that nudge us towards a better, or slightly better, understanding. Accept that nothing in life is truly boring or typical, even when it seems to be on the surface. Make it your mission to lead the least boring and most atypical life you can possibly lead.
That's your map for this journey, man. Or at least, it’s a starting point.
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