Sometimes staring up at the stars is a good enough reason for staring up at the stars. I am a big believer in the power of nature. We can all benefit from making sure we have enough nature in our days and enough days in nature.

Finding the time and opportunity to spend time outdoors is a challenge. Yet, I cannot remember ever regretting time spent in nature. Even when I lived in New York and Toronto, I was happier after I found the time to walk in the park or to sit by a fountain and listen to the water. Life can be busy. Sometimes I cannot afford the time to get outside… but sometimes I can’t afford not to.

Fernie is a beautiful place filled with opportunities for outdoor pursuits and activities. When I look beyond the town, at the surrounding mountains, I still find myself in awe. Spending quiet time in nature is a reverent experience for me. It is when I feel the most connected to life. For me, that connection to nature provides me with the benefits many people get from religion. My problems (and sometimes even their solutions) become clearer, my perspective becomes more objective, and my empathy for others grows.

Nature has a way of simplifying life and decisions. The absence of everyday distractions like money and bills and phone calls allows us to see whatever issue is on our mind. I remember when trying to decide whether to go back to university to become a teacher, I kept flip-flopping on whether the timing was right or not. I went for a walk in the woods behind my parents’ house and came back knowing that I wanted to enrol in Education.

One of my favourite jobs ever was leading week-long canoe trips in Ontario for teenagers. The self-growth for the participants (and myself) was astounding. The number of participants who made important life decisions on those trips (what to do after high school, how to repair broken relationships, admitting addiction problems) was more than could be chalked up to coincidence. Being somewhere new and in nature, without the everyday distractions that fill our lives, allows people to focus on what is important.

We live in a time of dizzying technological advancement. My phone can do more than the world’s best computer could only a few decades ago. Technology amazes me. Yet sometimes, technology seems more like my master than my servant. Sometimes I need to unplug in order to recharge. “Unplugging” might sound daunting, but I am not suggesting that we all move off-grid and stop shaving (though that sounds appealing some days). Walking the dog, powering off the phone, biking instead of driving – these are all ways to unplug from technology, all ways to reduce distractions.

This coming summer I look forward to hiking and biking and canoeing and just generally getting outside and to connecting with nature. For tonight, I am going to take my dog for an extra-long walk where we can look up at mountains and maybe just stop and gaze up at the stars.