Ever since I read a book called “Soulcraft” by Bill Plotkin, I’ve been fascinated by the meetings and rituals us humans have had with nature throughout existence.
Born and raised in cities, my contact with nature, although daily now, has been limited.
Last weekend, I got the chance to do a shorter Nature Quest. It’s an invitation to meet yourself, without any distractions. 48 hours solo in nature, fasting, with no cell phone, books, or other distractions available.
I was personally quite apprehensive about sleeping in nature by myself, and was looking forward to conquering that. This piece from an article stuck with me:
“Mistakes you make by yourself carry heightened consequences. On one hand, it can be incredibly tiring. You need to pack slowly and contemplate each item more carefully… but on the other, it can be powerful and liberating. You can come back from a trip, look yourself in the mirror, and say, “Look what I did by myself”
Preparing became a big part of the experience.
Physically, I had to get over my caffeine dependency. I began limiting my caffeine intake 10 days before the quest and was caffeine-free by October 1. 🥳 I also did a Master Cleanse fasting 3,5 days before and during the quest, so I began adjusting my diet and limiting sugar intake beforehand.
Mentally, I prepared for being alone on a tiny island on the outskirts of the archipelago and camping by myself. Something I’ve never done before. Lately, I’ve also felt distracted, so it felt like a chance to do a re-set.
What did I take away from the experience?
Imagining and visualizing has a direct impact on our lived experience
When I signed up for the Nature Quest, it was scheduled to be on an island I’ve been to before. It felt stretchy but I got comfortable with the idea. When I found out we were to be placed on one small island each, I first freaked out. I could hardly sleep that night while my brain tried to process and assess this new situation. But sitting for a few days with the thought of doing this, I got used to the idea and eventually felt ready for it.
A few days before the quest, the entire event was moved to a much larger island, closer to the city, due to weather concerns. Having visualized, what in my mind was a tougher experience, some of the fears I had surrounding the nature quest had melted away before even going.
Nature can teach us simple and profound life lessons
I had a lot of insights during these 48 hours. At one point, I sat watching an ant that worked tirelessly to drag a fir needle towards some destination. No questioning his task. Sometimes his situation looked hopeless, but he always found a way to push it forward. At one point, another ant joined him and helped out. It felt coordinated, purposeful, and intelligent. Like a dance with nature.
It made me think deeply about my connection to work and purpose. Just like every ant, tree, and bug serves a function in the life of nature, so do we humans. Where in life am I as committed as this ant?
Learning to think longer thoughts
A fellow participant gave me these words. When I have an idea or thought in everyday life, I can easily get interrupted by something else – my phone, other thought, a person or a computer.
During this quest, I had some of the longest and most interesting thought processes of my life. Because I could, and because I wanted to. I had discussions with different parts of myself. Allowing myself this time to converse, think, pause, and wait for a true answer, gave some pretty big breakthroughs and insights that I’m taking time to digest.
How I do one thing is how I do everything
Patterns are strong and run deep. At one point, I was standing on a cliff, looking out over the water. I had to pee, but realized I was waiting until I had to go pee just a little bit more before I actually went. I was struck with that realization and started laughing.
Because this is what I do in life. I can get stuck in situations, just waiting. For what, I don’t know. For someone to come and take the next step? To save the day? For more information?
When I realized this, I went straight away. That action freed me up to move into a new state. I had freed up energy and time to follow my curiosity elsewhere. It was a major lesson for me.
On the other side of fear is joy
I was apprehensive of camping in nature by myself but was excited to meet this situation. The first night went a bit too well (I slept through the most magical full moon and starry night 😬).
During the second night, I was wide awake for hours. I heard noises and weird sounds everywhere, and every fear I’ve ever had about what could happen alone at night in the woods passed through me. A storm came in and it started raining. One of my tent pegs came loose and I was expecting my tent to fall over.
I just lay there and breathed, thinking about my connection to nature, and that I was safe. After a while, the fears I had just melted away, and I started laughing. I’ve never felt more connected to the world than in that moment. It was a surrender, a letting go.
It’s just been a few days, so I believe this will keep settling in. My learnings might look different just five days from now.
They were also quite simple. I didn’t have any deep, spiritual lessons. More a re-visiting of important lessons, and re-affirmations of what I know is true. Perhaps 48 hours is a bit too short to meet oneself fully.
Just picked up Bill Plotkin’s book again, already dreaming up my next adventure 🥰