Slowing down

When I was in my early 20s I spent a couple of summer helping young people experience the wonder of nature by canoe.  We would spend 10 days travelling by our own power, at a slow pace, covering only fifty of one hundred miles.  We really explored and disconnected from the world.

I got to thinking about that because, as I wrote this, I was travelling on a plane flying over the area when I used to paddle.  It’s amazing that, over a decade later, I can still make out the lakes and the rivers that I explored those summers during the late 90s.  Artery lake stands out as a cross on the Bloodvein River, Aikens lake, with it’s crater at the source of the Gammon.  I couldn’t make out Scout lake or “Bing’s Death Swamp” but I know they’re down there.

During those summers, we didn’t have cell phones or email at the base camp.  Landline telephone service was limited, so we wrote a lot of paper letters.  Life was very slow.  I got excited to even see another person and would spend time getting to know the little details of their lives over the past week on the trail and crossing paths with another canoe trip was amazing.

With that kind of slow life, you really connected with the people around you.  You created a tight knit community.  You learned about each other and enjoyed each other’s company.  You could do that because you slowed down and paid attention to the little things in life.

We used to occasionally see planes overhead.  We even had radios to contact them if there was an emergency.  I used to really resent seeing them – they represented the outside world.  I couldn’t imagine that one day I would be flying on one of them, looking down at the landscape that had become a part of me in the past.

If we are to connect more people with nature we need to slow down and remember that we need to create community. We need to know our neighbours.  We need to trust each other.  If we’re able to do that we will be able to spend time going for walks in the woods.  We’ll be able to let our kids play with each other and we’ll be able to let them explore without our intervention.

We need to have the courage to know on our neighbours doors, to say hello and to sit in the park.  We also have to have the courage to slow down and take the time to really get to know each other.

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