‘Natural’ world offers poignant insight into soul


By Cody Casares, Photo Editor

If you live in the Bay Area then you are probably surrounded by bustling traffic, vast infrastructure and neighbors sometimes only a wall away.

With such close proximity to others it is easy to forget that there are environments that differ from the urban surroundings that we call home, where the only traffic is the occasional critter scuttling along in search of food — where the only infrastructure is living, breathing and ever changing.

To experience, even in the slightest, any one of the latter is a critical reminder of one’s history and connection to it all.  Being surrounded by a natural environment offers a chance to decompress and presents the opportunity to release the constant stress brought on by the modern world.

To be alone in a heavily wooded area with only what you can carry on your back is a truly surreal experience. Everyone should try it.

Priorities switch from external worries to more internally focused thoughts of “where do I go now? What do I see in front of me or what am I hearing or feeling right now?”

You don’t need to be connected to the Internet to connect with yourself.

Everything can be viewed as a learning experience while embracing some of the natural instincts that are washed out in our daily city dweller lives.

All possessions need to be carried on your back, and because of this it is much easier to prioritize what is really necessary.

Many of the electronics we use daily lives are not as essential as an extra pair of socks, water, food, a sleeping bag, a form of shelter and, of course, toilet paper.

Also requiring the physical strength to get anywhere is a humbling experience as it exposes how much we take modern transportation for granted.

Driving to the top of a scenic ridge does not give you a feeling as rewarding as hiking to the summit yourself.

Now there are people who do not seek to conquer Half Dome in Yosemite, or dwell in an isolated area of Denali National Park in Alaska.

For people not ready to commit to such remote adventures, a simple stroll through Wildcat Canyon Regional Park here in the East Bay, which provides 2,427 acres of rolling hills with spectacular views, can deliver a similar calming experience.

Even to sit alone in the Atrium on campus for 30 minutes between classes allows one to release stress. While it is important to remember to get away from it all, it’s equally as important to reconnect once you return — don’t be a hermit.

At the core of it all it is important to remember that not everything we experience needs to come in the form of a text message or the latest viral video on YouTube. Getting lost outdoors is not always a bad thing.