Every now and again, I take some time to unplug, drive out to the middle of nowhere, and just be. Whenever I tell this to fellow technologists, they look at me like I'm crazy.
Why would anyone ever want to disconnect entirely? There's no Twitter, no email, no network at all in the woods!
Taking a Walk
When I'm stuck on a hard project, it's refreshing to step away from the machine and take a short walk. Nothing Earth-shattering, just a jaunt around the block to clear my head. It helps me gain some perspective on the issue at hand and, usually, I come back to my desk refreshed and ready to double down on the project and keep trucking.
Occasionally, though I'm dealing with a problem more challenging than I can solve in a simple walk through the neighborhood. It could be a work issue (some of the databases I juggle are frighteningly complex). It could be a personal issue. It could be a faith issue.
Whatever the dilemma, I find it's helpful to take a more extended trip to clear the cobwebs out of my head and renew my focus.
Over the past weeks, I've found myself juggling several weighty issues, so my friends' invitation to go hiking Saturday was more than welcome.
We trekked to Washington to take a short hike along Falls Creek. It was a relaxing drive on the freeway, followed by a short, quiet trip down gravel roads to the parking lot. The sun was out, but in the shade of the forest we were relatively protected. I saw a grand total of 3 mosquitoes, so bug spray wasn't even necessary.
The first 2 miles took us along Falls Creek, over two bridges, and up several challenging hills. I've been a bit remiss in my running and hiking lately, so the hills were a bit more strenuous than they would have been 6 months ago. Still, with a rapidly beating pulse and a few well-earned sweat rings on my hat, we made it to the base of Falls Creek Falls.
It was worth it.
The waterfall itself is actually three waterfalls - that is, the falls contains 3 distinct drops. The mist from the falls provided a wonderfully cooling aura to the area, and the greenery of the undergrowth made it all the more beautiful.
That, and I was in this remarkably beautiful and remote area with some of my closest friends. Nothing can beat that feeling, and it helped put many of the mental battles I'd been fighting for the past week in perspective. Standing in the pristine wilderness on the first day of summer being cooled by the mist of a 200-foot waterfall ... this feeling is the justification for the long hours I work and sacrifices I make. Every challenge I overcome that make trips like this possible, they're worth it a hundred times over.
I've always felt at home in the woods, and this past weekend was no different.
I take a walk in the woods to reconnect not just with the wonderful world around me, but with myself. It's an amazing feeling, and one I'd encourage everyone to try - just remember that the "woods" for you might not be the literal wilderness to which I sojourn.