What Can Be Learned From Watching a One Year Old on a Nature Hike

This weekend I finally got (in my opinion) a well deserved break.  I got a chance to be detached from the stresses of work and recharge.  One of my favorite ways of keeping myself down to Earth is visiting nature, so I took my family on a nature hike.

To enjoy an afternoon together we went to the North Etiwanda Preserve in Southern California. It's a loop trail plenty of indigenous plants of the area.  There are usually plenty of people there exercising or taking a leisurely stroll with their family or significant other.  I really needed this retreat with my wife and one year old son.

My son is an 18 month old explorer.  When we first got to the small parking lot, he wanted to look down at the rocks.   Then when we got on to the trail, he wanted to look at and touch every rock that came in front of him.  (Keep in mind, this is a nature trail; there is an extreme abundance of rocks.)  Every once in a while we stopped so he could stare at a plant or feel the wind blow by.

With his little legs, it took us about an hour to travel 0.25 miles (0.4 km).  In that time, I wanted to go farther in the trail, but we didn't because of my little curious one.  I wanted to tell my son to stop doing what he was doing and hurry up, but I didn't.  It hit me.

In his own way, my son was teaching me how to live.  By being his innocent and purely intentional self, he reminded me of some life lessons.   

By consistently stopping and examining what was right in front of him, he reminded me to appreciate what was right in front of me.  I've seen countless rocks in my lifetime and I didn't really bother to look at them;  I just wanted to keep going.  My son saw that each rock was uniquely different, which is why he wanted to examine each one.  Whether it's a rock, a leaf on the ground, a friend, or an extra moment in the day, I need to remember to see exactly what's right in front of me and appreciate it.

My son had no sense of urgency.  He just took his time exploring the nature around him.  For most of the hike, I wanted him to hurry up so we could get farther up the trail before it got dark.  Towards the end, I realized it was ridiculous of me to rush him.  We had no real set deadlines there.  No time limits.  There was no real reason to rush.  I was just used to rushing.  I rush before work to get ready for work.  I rush at work to get as much done as possible.  I rush home to spend as much time with my family before the cycle starts again the next day.  Just by being himself, he reminded me to relax and take my time.

At the end of the trip, I felt more rejuvenated.  Spending time with my family while being out in nature was well worth it.

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