Every other year or so, when looking for a book to read before going to sleep, I run into one of those classics that have been part of my life since I was a little boy.
I still remember the cover of the Italian translation of the book I had, dark grey with a drawing of a wolf surrounded by trees and snow in the middle, white big font of the title : “Il Richiamo della Foresta”, or in English “The Call of the Wild”, written by the genius of Jack London.
For a 7 years old kid trying to fall asleep on Saturday nights this book represented a magical trip to amazing - and very distant - places where temperatures were too cold to even imagine; through the years I read the same story at least another ten times and always found details that seemed new to me, part of the narrative that I couldn’t remember, or at least that I never pictured clearly in my mind before.
Moving to New York, growing up, facing adult problems and challenges changed dramatically the approach I have to this book, still present in my small bookshelf, this time in the original English version; just last week I finished to read once again about the journey of Buck, from the comfortable life down in the South, to the rigid and cruel reality in Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush.
“But Buck, the main character, is a dog!”, you might say, what is this “need in our life” that I mentioned in the title?
The entire book is really a wonderful 200 pages metaphor of the instinctive call we all feel deep inside ourselves when we try to understand our place in this world and our relationship with nature, the true and only environment where we can connect with the most real and authentic part of our existence.
And so, other than inviting you to read this masterpiece, I also want to share few ideas for all of us to connect to nature when we can, regardless of where we live, or what we do for living, and I suggest to find a little time for yourself to fully being aware of each one of these wonderful opportunities to be in touch with nature.
ENJOY THE PARK NEAR YOU
I am lucky enough to have an office located three blocks away from one of my favorite parks in New York City: Madison Square Park; yet I am guilty some days to miss the chance to get out the office, walk 5 minutes and enjoy this gem in the middle of the concrete jungle; and when I actually leave my desk for a quick break, it happens that I can’t resist the urge to check emails on my phone, instead of sitting down on a bench and simply looking around and absorbing the beauty of trees, squirrels running, flowers blooming.
Find a park that is convenient to reach for you, maybe even on your way back from work, and enjoy those 5 minutes of peace that these wonderful urban oases can provide, completely free.
Bonus point if you leave your phone in the car or in the office, or even simpler if you don’t take it out of your pocket; with a little practice you will understand how much technology is part of our life, often in a way that doesn’t bring any benefit to us (yes, I am referring to reading the post of the latest trip of your neighbor’s cousin’s best friend that you never met).
PLAN GETAWAYS THROUGH THE YEAR
Planning a short getaway from the city you are living in is a wonderful opportunity for you and your partner, friends or family to connect while traveling, and looking for destinations where nature is predominant will increase dramatically to bounds you will be able to establish, even with those people that are already part of your daily life.
Don’t look at these moments as a replacement to your yearly vacation, but rather as mini-adventures you can create and enjoy to break the regular routine we have in your life; something as simple as a hike to the closest mountain will give you a chance to have fun in planning a tasty breakfast on your way to destination, as well as sparkle your creativity for the snacks to bring during your walk. Liking the water better? Plan a day of games at the beach, taking pictures with a camera rather than a phone, playing guitar instead of using a radio, feeling the warmth of the sun with no rush to check what to do next.
Transform these moments into an opportunity for you to pause, and feel the peace and joy that comes from the simple things in life.
BRING NATURE TO YOUR HOME
If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad…yes, it is easier said than done to plan even single days away from home, so why don’t you bring a little bit of nature to you? If you have a terrace, that is a wonderful place to have flowers or, if you feel a little more committed to the cause, to have small plants; but even if you do not have a terrace, or much space available (and believe me, as many living in Manhattan, the size of my apartment is ridiculously small, so I do understand that face you are making in reading this) you can still find room even for a tiny vase to keep in your living room, or in the kitchen if you decide to get herbs (which give you the incentive to brag on your next Instagram post with the “fresh homegrown herbs sauce recipe” you made for dinner last night).
Taking care of plants or flowers can provide a very rewarding feeling, and having a green referral in the house can help in finding a point of focus where you can refuge when you need to rest and disconnect for a little bit from overwhelming thoughts.
We don’t need to freeze and explore the wild to listen to our natural instincts and trying to actively reconnect to them; with these little changes, I am positive next time you will read about Buck, you will be able to see life through his eyes, and understand his feelings, which are nothing else that our truest essence as living being; happy journey!