This is an account of day 14 of the 21-Day Daily Stoic Freedom Challenge, for accounts of other days please click here.
The task for day 14 of the 21-Day Daily Stoic Freedom Challenge is to visit somewhere beautiful and take it in for 30 minutes. The point is to really experience the parts of our environment that we usually take for granted, and benefit from the fresh air of the outdoors while we do so. Seneca wrote about the outdoors as a kind of medicine. “We should take wandering outdoor walks,” he said, “so that the mind might be nourished and refreshed by the open air and deep breathing.”
Today’s instructional email from the Daily Stoic provides some ideas on where to go:
Life gets busy, routines get more and more autonomous, it’s a rarity for most of us to make a point to get out in nature. Which is why we chose this Sunday for you to make it a requirement.
Go somewhere naturally beautiful today. More specifically, go some place that is beautiful to you.
You should get outside and spend time in nature every single day, not only for exercise, but for the philosophical and psychological benefits hiding in the molecules of clean air, in the coldness of mountain stream water, in the green of a forest canopy.
It can be close. It can be far. It doesn’t matter. Go to the most accessible place near you. Sit in a park. Swim in a lake. Lay on a beach. Walk a trail. Hike a mountain. Wherever it may be, breathe it in. Experience nature. Experience the quiet of the world around you.
This was a really nice challenge for a Sunday. I decided to go for a long drive along country roads that I don’t usually travel on and it made me realise how much I’ve been taking for granted. It was a welcome change to be able to simply drive without really having a destination. I was able to enjoy the peaceful journey and take everything in – the fields, the animals, the nature. I stopped a few times to get out into the fresh air before moving on again and rediscovering places that, although only a few miles from where I live, I hadn’t seen in a few years.
I felt suitably reset and refreshed after today’s challenge, I think that says it all.
In the challenge’s group Slack channel, fellow participant Carol posted a lovely comment and accompanying photo, vividly displaying the joy of being in nature:
I am so blessed, there is such peace in my little courtyard where I do my daily readings.
One of my neighbors lives on the main floor puts out bird seeds and corn on the walkway in front of her apartment as we are not allowed to have bird feeders. Have so many squirrels ,chipmunks and birds the surprising thing- they all eat together no fighting as there is plenty of food for everyone. Two ducks visited us early summer. On the long weekend Mr.. Mallard left and did not return. Mrs. Mallard came around for a few days looking for him then left. We haven’t seen her since. Rabbit made a home at the far end of the garden under the bushes. She delivered us to healthy bunnies. Bunny; we have decided to call him that as he is the only rabbit remaining, is getting braver everyday coming closer to my corner. It’s fun watching him trying to out run chipmunk. He is so curious and cautious. The chickadees and other small birds ignore him as he follows them around when they gather to eat. Nature has come to our courtyard to mingle with us seniors. How blessed we are.
Getting out into nature, and really taking it in, is one of the best ways to clear your mind. Living near the countryside means you need to be even more mindful not to take it for granted. Personally, I’ll take green fields and open spaces over grey buildings and city centres any day. I might make long drives on country roads, like the one I did today, a regular thing.