The Benefit of Being Outdoors

Pine trees tower overhead, beneath my feet their needles are soft and damp, it’s drizzling, and the path ahead is hazy through the shower of gentle rain. I follow the path around a particularly large tree and suddenly the tower looms over me, its dark wooden structure contrasted against the cloudy sky. I hurry towards it, anxious to be out of the rain. I climb the steps up to the top of the tower, and stand at the top, enjoying the sound of the rain hitting the roof and the silence of the surrounding woods as I look out at the view.

Growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, I’ve come to appreciate being out in the middle of nature. As a kid, I was hardly able to experience it, and on the rare occasions I could visit the forest or mountains, it was only after hours of driving. With the urban sprawl of cities, nature today has become scarce. It is nearly impossible to find a place to escape from noise, from overcrowded sidewalks and traffic, and just appreciate the beauty of our planet. I’m lucky enough to live in the state of Washington as a college student, allowing me to go out into nature pretty much everyday and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The tower in my campus arboretum is my favorite local nature escape. Despite being so close to the city, the tower is still about a mile into the woods. Because it’s right behind my campus, it only takes a twenty minute walk from my dorm to lose myself in the forest. I love walking through the woods, being surrounded by the trees and plants, and seeing squirrels and deer wandering freely across my path. The tower offers shelter from the rain and wind and presents a beautiful view of the water. Although it is man made, the tower feels like an extension of nature, its placement in the middle of a clearing allows for an appreciation of the surrounding area without having to physically climb a tree to see the view.

The tower is far from perfect, the noise from the nearby freeway is still noticeably audible, and the light pollution from the surrounding city makes it difficult to fully immerse oneself in nature. This problem is consistent in most natural places, it’s difficult to find anywhere that is truly isolated from the noise and light of surrounding towns and cities. Even in the most desolate places, you can almost always spot a road or building no matter where you are. It’s sad that in today’s society, we’re never truly able to completely be alone in nature.

Whenever I am hiking, I imagine myself miles from civilization, with no one around in any direction. Being out in nature allows me to forget my troubles and just focus on being outside. With work, school, and family, it’s hard for most modern Americans to get away from their responsibilities and just appreciate the beauty that exists outside of our busy schedules. Taking a drive to the mountains or beaches near our homes, or even just taking a walk through a park, can help to reconnect us with nature and get a breath of fresh air. It’s important, in today’s world of technology and convenience, to get out into natural places and live a little. Cities can be claustrophobic, suffocating, being outside surrounded by trees, can help to clear the mind and alleviate the stresses and anxieties that come with the constant stimulation of our busy lives.

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