One of my favorite things about hiking is the invitation to focus on individual elements of the environment around me. It’s easier, at least to me, to see the big picture: the sunset horizon, the canopy of trees overhead. I might lose myself in thought as I walk, barely noticing the rocks and roots my feet are stepping over. When I slow down and look-really look-around, I see small delights everywhere.
The forest is dense with life here in the South. From ivy climbing up trees to a flock of wild turkeys, there’s almost too much to see. I stopped and took the time to really look at this branch, with new leaves, after a cloudburst that drenched everything in its path.
On a windswept beach in South Carolina, someone had placed this weathered and broken shell in the crack of a driftwood log. The two were a perfect fit: old and broken in different ways, combining to form a small artwork a beach variation on the Japanese art of wabi-sabi.
The flowers are blooming everywhere, it seems, and at times, the mass of them overwhelm me. How do I capture the riotous blooms of Spring in the South? I moved in closer and saw the delicate lines and petals of each individual blossom.
The more time I spend among forest and trees, by salt water and sand, the less I want to be in a city. I’m finding my new place in this world and it’s less urban than ever: I grew up in LA and I’ve lived in Manhattan, Boston, and Seattle. Maybe it’s time to stay out of the big hotspots and spend time in the smaller, calmer places.
I don’t know where this path will lead, but, honestly, I’ve never known five steps ahead in my life. For now, I’ll keep slowing down and taking a closer look at wherever I am, trying to look around more than I look forward to the next thing.
Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.