We’re all consumed with the rituals of routine. There’s always more to do, more people to see, and more work to continue. But what happens if we’re always doing and never just being?
Modern Western society values hard work and dedication, as it should. But it also highly values overtime, overworking, and over-commitment. Late nights and early mornings are praised. Rushing out the door and eating meals on the go are a new modus operandi. There’s no time to sit and think, to experience silence, to actually engage our own thoughts without checking the clock. Few are the voices that call for moderation in our busyness-infatuated culture.
What’s the answer to society’s obsessive busyness? I don’t know, but I have one idea to at least confront the notion of all busy, all the time.
Some of the best moments of clarity we experience are when we’ve created margin. That margin allows us the freedom to escape our routines, even if just temporarily. If we set aside times throughout our week to get out of the ruts we’ve dug so voraciously, perhaps we can form new paths for our brains and bodies to walk in a less-stressed, more balanced way of life.
One of the most refreshing ways to restore balance is to escape the confines of city life, where noise is constant and tension hangs in the air. To remove yourself from the hurried masses for a couple days could do wonders to refresh your perspective and provide rest from the frantic pace of life.
Take a weekend out of town. Get lost in the woods. Regain your childlike wonder. Visit a mountain range. Allow yourself to grow adventurous and find a sense of wanderlust.
Naturalist John Muir once said:
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
There are amazing, restorative qualities about being close to nature. This isn’t in the sense that the natural world is the end goal of existence, but in the sense that it’s God’s creation. When we immerse ourselves in forests and mountains and plains, our bodies and minds work differently that they do while we reside in the city. It’s as if we grow more keenly aware of our small but valuable role in God’s world while we step out of doing and more into being.
A Different Kind of Work
If we put work and busyness on hold to find peace in the wilderness, we realize that the world operates just fine without us. We each play a role in the world, but need to maintain the responsibility of balance, rest, and refreshment.
Admittedly, backpacking in the wilderness can be demanding physical labor. Hiking for miles, traversing boulder fields, and facing steep elevation changes are stressful experiences, but in a good way.
In the wilderness, life becomes much more simple. There are basic needs of food and water and sleep, but the whole idea of backpacking is merely walking in the wilderness. It allows us to see new sights, remember we’re only a small part of the world, and experience a sort of peace that only comes when we step out of busyness into being.
How do you find balance in your life? When’s the last time you got outdoors to experience peace and simplicity?