This is my new summer goal — to wean myself off a dependency on wireless connections when I take time to write. Instead of thinking I need a world’s worth of information at my fingertips, I’ll withdraw to places of solitude in nature where the wireless connections don’t reach (or maybe they do, but I won’t tap into them) and where there’s a wondrous world bursting with its own information in front of my eyes. We’ll see what kind of effect that has on my creativity.
I used to spend a lot of time outdoors in nature, armed with nothing but a notebook and a pen. That’s how I wrote exclusively for most of my life, up until university, when I got a laptop. Nature was the only place I could go for privacy, as the oldest of four kids in a modest-sized house in the middle of the forest with no year-round neighbours. There was no mall to escape to, no movie theatre, no coffee shops or fast food joints within less than 40 kilometres. I had to make do, and that was fine.
I had my kayak, canoe and rowboat. I had snowshoes, cross-country skis, and a kicksled for easy transportation on snow crusts or icy lakes. And I had my special places — rocks, the edges of ponds, cozy dips in the earth sheltered by conifers, the lookout above Grant’s Pond. These were the places I went in my homeschooled afternoons to read and nap, but mostly just to write and long for the world with all my pent-up teenage passion.
My reminiscing stems from where I’m at right now, as I write the original copy of this blog post by hand in a notebook. I’m sitting on a log, overshadowed by bushes, my bare feet resting on smooth pebbles, looking out at a view so beautiful that it makes me ache. This is what I see:
That’s Chantry Island in the distance, with its bright white speck of a lighthouse that’s said to be haunted. I don’t believe in those things, but I still don’t feel particularly inclined to go on the island’s guided Ghost Tour.
I’m not pleased to see that the bush whose shade I’ve been enjoying is covered in ants, but upon closer examination, they’re leaving me alone because they’re busy chowing down on aphids. I know all about aphids from Eric Carle’s somewhat annoying children’s book The Very Grouchy Ladybug, which, while being very informative about the effect of aphids on leaves, causes A. to tear around the house for hours, yelling, “Hey you, wanna fight?” in a rather aggressive tone, which is exactly what the grouchy ladybug does. I’ve moved away from the bush.
It sounds like a cliché, but Nature truly does wonders for the soul. I put in time and effort keeping my body healthy with food and exercise. I dedicate myself to maintaining a happy relationship with my family. I hire babysitters so I can have time for myself and get some writing done. So why don’t I spend more time alone outside? I’m too caught up in feeling like I have to accomplish, submit, publish, check off my list, work away at anything. Being still in nature no longer comes naturally, which is all the more reason to work on reestablishing that connection this summer.