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Keeping it wild

It’s been well over a week since the end of 30 Days Wild which has given me the opportunity to reflect upon the effects of tuning into nature every day for a month and where to go from there.

Generally I consider myself to be quite outdoorsy, aware and appreciative of my surroundings and nature’s influence, whether spending time within the city I live or exploring the remote Scottish Highlands. Despite this, there are still lessons I have learnt about myself and aspects that I hope to continue beyond my 30 Days Wild efforts.

A few nature-influenced life lessons learnt:

  • How important it is to take time out, especially on busy days. There are always occasions when things are so chaotic, it is easy to miss out on valuable breathing space in nature. Setting aside time out – regardless of the day’s events – calmed me and allowed me to recharge. I had to be imaginative on a few especially busy days as to how to fit in Wild Day activity, but even five minutes to stop along a cycle path and forage for dinner, or listen to the birds around me made all the difference.

  • Giving myself permission to “do nothing” helps me achieve more. A five hour sit with the swans – justified by “fulfilling wild time” – gave me focus and direction. This is something I think many of us find extremely difficult and I feel it is an affliction of Western society; we always have to be doing something for some purpose or goal. I’m trying to continue making time to just “be” for the sake of it, but it is taking a lot of practice!

  • To switch onto surroundings when the mind is distracted. I’ve noticed that there are many times when out on my bike or walking that I’m not really there – lost in some thought about the past or future, worrying about things I’ve said or done, or making up stories in my head about events that hadn’t even happened yet. Participating in simple activities, such as listing birds seen and heard as I travel from A to B, brings me back into the present, enables me to be more aware of my immediate surroundings, and cultivates a sense of internal peace.

  • How easy it is to integrate wild time with other aspects of life. From tuning into nature during daily commutes to spending time in the kitchen preparing food I have gathered myself, I feel more connected to, and in tune with nature than ever. It’s been an especially powerful experience within the context of city-living.

I am certainly carrying these lessons forward with me, with a smile on my face every time another connection is made. A few highlights from today include having a wonderful time leading a nature walk in Hermitage of Braid Local Nature Reserve (where we identified over 30 plant species, happened across a writhing mass of peacock caterpillars, and witnessed hundreds of tiny toadlets making their first journey on land) and cycling alongside a bee on my journey back home. On returning to the flat I enjoyed feasting on a lunch of foraged-watercress soup.

I will return to more photograph-focused blogging soon, but for now I am off on a long break to the Inner Hebrides for some chill-out time after a busy couple of months. Phew!

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