This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit my uncle's cottage, located a little more than an hour away from where I live. As I have previously mentioned, I am not an extremely outdoorsy person, but the fact that I was even a little bit away from the city taught me a lot. I want to share my experiences with you, and share what I learned.
Nature is humbling: We feel like we are the centre of our own universe, but we are just a speck in the grand scheme of things. (If we are talking in terms of the solar system, we are even smaller than that!) Being in nature made me feel small, in the best way possible. Life is not all about me and not all about us; it is about being at peace with our surroundings. In being small, we realize all the other moving parts around us; the plants, the sun, and the water. We are part of a larger system that benefits us, so we must learn to live in it and respect it.
Use only what you need: These days, more than ever, we tend to live in abundance. Because of that, we may tend to associate our own value with our possessions, and the things that we own end up owning us. (I talk about this more in my podcast episode Minimalism.) However, being at the cottage showed me that people lived in harmony with nature and did not abuse it. This is a refreshing take on our usual way of living in the city, where nature takes up only a small part of our surroundings. When we only use what we need, we are more open to the possibility of nature providing for us. This is the only way we can live in harmony with our surroundings.
Be prepared for the unexpected: While out on a canoe ride with my aunt and my mom, I was supposed to be facing the rear, but somehow found my way at the front of the canoe, guiding the others. I thought I was an experienced enough rower, so I took on that responsibility even though my aunt said she would be at the front. Unfortunately, after trying to steer the boat inland, I ended up capsizing us by shifting my weight too much in my left foot. It was fair to say that we were all soaking wet, since we only had our clothes on with no bathing suit. However, we did wear a life jacket AND, as a last minute decision before leaving, we did not bring our phones. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it was almost as if fate was on our side, even if it didn't seem like it. We took preventative steps before disaster happened, and it was easier to deal with the situation when it came about. We must be prepared for the unexpected because things can change very quickly. We need to be able to adapt and overcome, or we might just end up drowning!
Change your surroundings, change your mindset: I wasn't far from home, but I could feel a difference in the way people thought and lived their lives up north. Everyone had a house that they stayed at during the week, but the cottage was a special place. People who usually worked in big urban centres were able to live in nature during the weekends. Although this does not apply just for a cottage, we all have a different state of mind once we leave our usual surroundings. This past weekend, I was surprised by how relaxed I was, and how I was able to lose track of time and the current situation of our world. I was just at peace. So even if you can't go to a cottage, leaving your home could have a major impact on the way you think, even if it is for a short time.
The truth is, there is a lot to learn from nature and being immersed in it. You feel more connected to the world around you and start to gain a new appreciation for it. It changes the way that you think, in some cases, and makes you feel more at peace and small in the grand scheme of things. The major takeaway is that we must learn to live with nature, rather than to make it accommodate us.