When Nature Calls

When my life gets crazy, and I have deadlines to hit, a lot of things can fall to the wayside. My time with nature isn’t one of them.

It’s Thursday afternoon and it’s been that sort of a day. A day so crammed with meetings that it’s almost suffocating. It’s nearly 3 p.m. and all I’ve had for lunch is a handful of almonds and a hardboiled egg (trust me, this menu wasn’t by design). My back feels tight; I’m tapping my foot restlessly to let off some pent-up energy and I missed my workouts the whole week through.

If it doesn’t sound too healthy, that’s because it’s not. But unfortunately, weeks like this are not too unusual for me or many of my startup founder friends. When life gets crazy, and you have deadlines to hit, a lot of things can fall to the wayside. Even lunch.

The one meeting I won’t miss.

A lot of people wax on about the joys of nature and how it helps them de-stress. I’m not alone in that I, too, feel comforted when I walk through a canopy of green, sit and stare at the ocean waves lapping at the sand, or even just ditch my car and opt instead for my bicycle to take me for an afternoon of meandering.

But one thing that may set me apart is my unbreakable commitment to nature. It’s a bond that I can’t (won’t) shake. What started off as a simple tactic to unwind has become a near addiction. Without fail, every single week, no matter where I am in the world, I make time for nature. It doesn’t matter if I’ve danced until two a.m. the evening prior (that happens), or if the snooze button looks tempting as F. It doesn’t matter if I need to shuffle other priorities, post-pone phone calls or that Monday morning will present me with a messy flat and a basket full of dirty laundry. It’s that good, it’s that important to me. I make it happen, every time.

It’s worth the effort.

It usually happens on the weekend, and I don’t mind if a friend comes along for the excursion. Because it does typically take an excursion to truly make an impact. Tahoe, Yosemite; mountain biking, sailing on the Bay. It’s all out there waiting to be had, and it doesn’t all require bug spray and a survivor kit. Nature takes many forms and there’s magic in each.

Like just going on a walk in the trails on the outskirts of Oakland. It sounds ridiculously simple, but I must make it happen. It takes commitment, every time. And when I do, something remarkable occurs. My back muscles warm up and my shoulders release; my mind wanders and I’m struck by an outpour of raw ideas. Or, when I camp and listen to the breeze sifting through the trees and I see nothing but stars scattered across the inky night sky. Or, watching the water sparkle as I sail — then I’m hit by such a deep appreciation for the mysterious and depths of the ocean, and really, for all that matters to me in life.

It’s been said a million times but it’s worth saying again: nature is good for the soul. For me, it’s my source of balance, strength and perspective. And that never gets old.