I got lost in the woods once – in Tobermory to be exact. It had a happy ending but it was not a great feeling. I did learn some things about myself being lost at the Bruce Peninsula. I learnt that I got irritated and impatient with myself and others; I tended to think of the worse things like being mauled by a three hundred pound black bear and that even the most innocent sound and movement became ominous. Perhaps I knew these things about myself already. But placed in a heightened situation, we come face to face with who we are and perhaps who we want to be.
I also learnt other things too. Irritation and impatience will not get you found any faster; there are ways to combat fear like making noise to keep the bears away; and things will work out if you keep your head.
Nature can teach everyone something and this is true for teens and young adults. You do not have to be lost to learn from nature. It offers lessons without that added challenge. Today’s teens and young adults have many challenges and issues. Most of these issues have to do with self – meaning they are not necessarily external. There are issues of low self-esteem, anger, impatience etc. There are external things too – like peer pressure. Some of the things we do in nature is walk, hike, camp and fish. All of these require some amount of patience and the mindset to stick to the task at hand. They all take up time – sometimes large amounts of it. You have to find patience if you do not have it. But how does nature helps with other things? For one, it takes you away from the regular day – away from it all to take a step back. Maybe this will help you to view things with greater objectivity.
The distractions of every day life are stripped away and for the most part, you are left with yourself, vast open spaces and the quiet to think. Teens and young adults can think through their angst, peer pressure low self-esteem and whatever else they have going on in their lives. What are you going to to do about any of these issues?
If you do come across the challenges of being lost, confronting a bear, or even crossing a large body of water, how will you proceed? Your character is being called into play here. Stand and fight or take flight. Now you can choose to build that weak self-esteem, bolster your patience, channel your anger, feel the pressure of that situation and know that peer pressure will always be around you but in the end it is you who are going to give in or stand up.
Ultimately, any confrontation with nature is a confrontation with the self. Instinctively, you’ll respond from who you are but you can be guided by nature into responding differently.
Nature is a beautiful and challenging place to be and so is youth.