I’m lying face-down in a thicket of thorny, dense, Nova Scotian brush. Cut, tired, almost in tears and and ready to give up on our summit of White Hill, Nova Scotia’s highest point, Andrea calls behind me, “Are you OK?” I take a deep breath, collect myself, and respond. “Yeah, I’m OK…”
In the 4 days leading up to this expedition I had been worried about this exact moment – bushwhacking through maritime forests, brittle and painful from a life exposed to harsh winds and salt-air. I read reports, looked at maps, and both Andrea and I had detailed conversations with Parks Canada staff. Still, I was worried and that worry resulted in tension.
My tension and stress caused me to be a total pain and often miserable hiking partner. It often was hard for me to relax and everything was taken a bit too seriously. Instead of voicing my concerns and discussing them and taking the time to relax, I tried to push through stubbornly.
Lying there in the alders, when I heard Andrea’s voice, I realized that despite all of this my hiking partner never abandoned me. She was looking past my stressed-out attitude and the harsh conditions of our journey and focused on the goal. When I heard her voice I realized how much of my ego was getting in the way. I decided to put that aside, accept the conditions, focus on the journey and be present in the moment.
This resulted in me being more aware and observing natural breaks in the brush that animals had navigated and those paths allowed us to move through more “easily” (I use that term loosely). It allowed me to listen to my intuition and eventually find the trail we’d been searching for in our bushwhack.
After successfully reaching the summit I felt a wave of relief wash over me. As we embarked on the long journey back to the car I reflected on my attitude and the conditions we hiked through. I thought to myself, “nature has taught you an important lesson.”
Nature is bigger than any of us. It is bigger than small worries, concerns, and disputes. Nature is a powerful force that will inspire awe and evoke an internal silence if you are willing to stop and appreciate it’s beauty. Nature demands a balance between adequately planning and preparing and being present- looking ahead and then setting that aside and being in the moment.
I am still learning that balance and trying to accept the many, many, lessons nature can teach me…even when that means falling-face first into some painful brush.