Ever since I was little, the concept of adventure was synonymous with traveling, going away, and often covering vast distances. With bedtime stories pulled from Greek and Roman mythology including but not limited to the Odyssey, I dreamt of doing amazing things and discovering distant lands. It never occurred to me that I could do all that by standing still (well, close).
Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling and always will — but that’s not what I want to talk about here. Instead, I want to discuss the magic of staying still.
When was the last time you experienced the seasons as they played tag and sometimes teased you with a bout of hide-and-go-seek as they passed the baton to each other? Witnessed nature and everything it has to offer, from birdsong to smells and colors which all evolve as the year progresses? When was the last time you saw things grow and change? It’s a journey you can only have if you don’t go anywhere. Or at least, if you remember to stop and breath in your surroundings.
My mother-in-law goes for long walks in the woods of the Ardennes in Belgium almost every day, rain or shine. Over the years, she became interested in foraging and now knows where to go for the best batches of mushrooms and blueberries. Her friends have their spots too, but they rarely share them because that knowledge must be earned over time, with patience, and perhaps a touch of luck.
When you have been through that learning process, you can know the joy of filling baskets with wild blueberries and ending up cover in that almost childish purple admission of guilt that tells the world you sampled the goods.
Thanks to globalization, we can travel almost anywhere anytime, and the effort is — for all intents and purposes, and compared to what our ancestors had to go through, minimal. We tend to live life in the fast lane, because the internet and social media, buying things with one click and having them delivered on our doorstep, instant gratification is the new blue.
Without giving up on what is an integral part of our generation’s advantages, perhaps it’s also time to take a step back and stop to smell the roses. They can inspire us to stay rooted while reaching for the sky.
You might surprise yourself. I know I did.
Against all the odds, I find myself eager to get up at 6 am when it’s time to take our puppy out. Because I never know what I will discover outside: the moon, ever watchful, shining its benevolence onto a world that looks like it’s on fire as the sun makes its way over the horizon and above the hills that surround us? A cloud, so fluffy it reminds me of the warm bed I just left, passing through the valley as though it could tiptoe past us unnoticed? Or the world in what feels like infinite shades of grey as sun cedes part of its shift to the stars, hiding in his comforter made of the very clouds I was longing to wrap myself in just the other day?
Once I make it out the door, what new wonders will greet me? Today, I heard a woodpecker for the first time. A few weeks ago, I spotted a family of wild boar tearing down the hillside opposite me. And almost daily, another tree or flower catches my eye with its shy blossoms speaking of the summer to come, full of color and the promise of fruit that will add smell and taste to the wonder of each day.
This adventure differs from the one of getting on a plane and exploring distant lands. Instead, it’s about exploring the world around you with curiosity, devoid of fear. Being attuned to the seasons has an added benefit of giving you perspective
When I was living in New York City, working an exciting but demanding job, continually chasing a deadline, an event, a new goal, I almost forgot that nature’s cycle is part of the balance we all need. Spring for reflection and growth, summer for reaping fruit; autumn to stock up, and winter to slow down and rest.
Growing up, I remember the glee of spotting the first snowdrops poking through the ground, snow or frost be damned; the magic of trees turning fiery shades of orange and red, a last finale of color before winter took over. Perhaps we all need to reconnect with that child in us — the one who would stuff a blueberry in his mouth for every fruit he added to his basket, and the one who noticed seasons the way we have almost forgotten how. Because as it turns out, adventure isn’t something you need to go out and look for — it’s right there inside of you, if you know how to listen.
Shahnaz Radjy is an adventurer, a foodie, a bookworm, and a horse-lover. As a writer, aspiring farmer, and eternal optimist, she shares some of her thoughts and adventures on her travel blog, via Medium, as well as on Instagram.
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