Outside

I spied this gorgeous hawk sitting in a tree not far from me as I was walking today.  I slowed and carefully positioned my camera, trying to capture this image.

photo-1

And as I watched and then continued my walk, a short 25 word story (or maybe the beginning of something more) was brewing in my head.

Tucked in behind the gas station and across the street from the McDonalds, hawk oversees wild space…what is left of what used to be.

I took a minute at the stop light and jotted notes down in my phone to remember this thought when I got back home.  Thinking about what used to be interests me.  What caused developers to leave this wild space untouched?

Last week a parent in our class sent us this article about going outside to write when you feel stuck or uninspired with your writing, saying that it reminded her of us and our classroom.  (Such a great compliment!)  I’ve shared it with many others…and was thinking about it this morning as I headed outside for a long walk.

I knew I had lots of writing to do today (beyond my blog post) and told myself I needed to get outside and be active before settling down to work.  To make the prospect more appealing, I planned my walk with a mid-walk stop at the local Starbucks and had my iPhone handy for any interesting photo opportunities.

As I started my walk I noticed that my “monkey mind,” as Natalie Goldberg calls it, took over.  I could feel my attention pulled in a million directions as I noticed sounds (cars, birds, breeze, leaves crunching, bicycles whizzing by…), smells (the smell of water in the curb drains, car exhaust, the damp of foggy air…), sights (the lone purple flower in a sea of ground cover, scraps of paper interwoven in the brush, leaves blowing…), and physical feelings (the sheen of sweat building on my shoulders, the push of air as cars rushed past, the uneven sidewalk under my feet…).  Before I started my walk, I had thought I might continue on a theme of water photos started yesterday with a walk on the beach, but the first half of my walk didn’t offer any interesting possibilities.

And then I noticed the hawk.  It literally stopped me in my tracks as I looked closely, noticing the beauty of this bird.  Crows and pigeons are pretty commonplace on my walks…and hawks are mostly noticed from a distance, flying high above.  I loved the opportunity to look closely as I angled my lens.  He watched me as I watched him.  And then he spread his magnificent wings and took to the sky.  I only wish I could describe the sound of those large, powerful wings as they lifted the bird from the branch.

As much as people complain about “screen time” and lament that devices are keeping our young people indoors, inactive, and uninspired, I find that it is my device that gets me moving, heading outdoors, and paying attention to my surroundings.  As always, we need balance in our lives.  Opportunities for solitude and times to interact.  Playtime and sustained work.  Time in nature to notice and question and wonder and time with our screens to produce, write and connect.  It doesn’t have to be either/or…can’t it be both?

How does your device (or devices) impact the ways you interact with the outdoors?

3 thoughts on “Outside

  1. judymko

    I wrote in one of my blogs how walking, instead of running, has helped me closer attention to my surroundings. I have been walking with my iPhone so I can listen to my music, but it also helps when I want to take a picture of something interesting that catches my eye.

    Reply

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