Rowing My Boat Quickly Down the Stream — My Day in Nature
by John Gower
First things first: growing up, I didn’t think I was a nature person. I was always the guy who’s told he has “soft hands” and looks like he spends way to much time indoors, and who might spend a little too much time on the computer. However, that all changed when I took on my very first job out of college at an outdoorsy non-profit, which we shall call “Tree Huggers.”
I had been working at “Tree Huggers” for about two months when our brilliant CEO decided we needed to have a group outing. And said group outing was of course going to be in the middle of nowhere, in a secluded forest. Gulp.
Everyone else was excited for our group-bonding trip. Not only were we heading to the middle of the forest, we were renting canoes and paddling two-by-two from one end to the other. Little did I know, that day would teach me some valuable lessons. The first being: I’m competitive. That’s what got me into this mess in the first place. I wasn’t about to be left behind—and what’s more, I wanted to excel. Even at being in nature.
Canoeing Day Begins
On the day of our big canoeing trip in the middle of the forest, I arose extra early to meet the rest of the “Tree Huggers” staff in a suburban parking lot. After a short minivan ride, we reached the edge of the forest, where the canoe rental stand was located. The start to end point on this little river turned out to be a few miles — a decent distance when you’re traveling by arm. Thankfully I was in the front of the canoe, which apparently meant I had to do far less work. That said, I still couldn’t move my arms for like a week after we were back on dry land. But, on the bright side, I definitely didn’t have “soft hands” anymore!
Occasionally we would pull over to take in a supposedly “scenic” spot or to rest our arms. When lunchtime finally arrived, my coworkers all found it hilarious that I refused to sit down on anything before pulling out a beach towel to protect myself from the dirty ground. However, despite never having touched an oar before that morning, my boat ended up finishing our “chartered boat cruise” a good half-hour before the rest of the staff. Suddenly, being outdoors was starting to look up.
Lessons Learned From Nature
What the “high” gained from my competitive instincts allowed me to see is that nature is actually kind of peaceful. With all the distractions in our daily lives — cell phones, computers, television, etc. — it can be difficult to disconnect. Spending a day in nature forced me to get away from all diversions and simply focus on the now. To my friends and family’s amazement, I have become a nature convert, and go hiking at least once a week now.
John Gower is a writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website dedicated to helping you save money with financial tips on everything from travel to 30 year fixed mortgage rates.