A New Old Hobby

In light my desire to get out of the house without spending more time in public places, I’ve taken up a new old hobby over the last few months: wild camping. While camping isn’t technically legal in England like it is in places with more sane laws (Scotland gets this right), I don’t see the harm as long as you respect the countryside and leave no trace.

Carrying your pack, starting a fire, hanging a tarp to keep the rain off your head — out in the woods, everything only comes about only as a result of your own effort. I find that level of self-sufficiency inherently satisfying, and sadly missing from everyday life. Hungry? stop by a drive-thru for your instant carb hit. Thirsty? pick up a steaming coffee from your pick of a dozen local chains. Bored? grab your phone and start scrolling for that dopamine hit. When everything is an easy shortcut, it’s easy to slide into a mental space that leaves you feeling depressed.

There’s something peaceful, even contemplative about being in nature; being away from the screens and notifications gives you time to slow down and think. A lot of people struggle with being alone, though I’ve never been able to understand why. Much like Bukowski, the years have taught me that being in my own company is the best way to recharge my batteries.

“Just being away from people is one of the most marvelous fulfillments that a man like me can have.”

Walking and spending time in nature has been a favourite past-time of many writers through the years. From Dickens to Wordsworth, almost all of them advocate wandering “lonely as a cloud.” The English literary critic William Hazlitt (1778-1830) argued its merits in his essay, “I like to Go by Myself.”

“I can enjoy society in a room, but out of doors, nature is company enough for me. I am then never less alone than when alone.”

That’s enough of a rant for today. If you’re feeling the stresses of the rat-race, try taking a walk among some trees. It’s a simple thing, but you’d be surprised what a difference it can make.

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