This week's guest post is by Vicky Hunter. Vicky is Founder of LittleRed, promoting experiences that encourage authentic connection and reflection. She studied Drama (BA) and Event Management (MA) before working as an Events and Community Manager for the tech startup community both in London and remotely, whilst travelling as a Digital Nomad. She’s currently preparing for The Swirl, a series of events taking place in November, to celebrate nature and creativity, plus she’s researching the possibility of a replicable formula for the perfect experience.
I’m a country girl that lived in London and travelled the world.
I had the privilege to grow up in the gorgeous greenery of Northumberland. In winter it snowed. In spring the daffodils bloomed and the lambs bleated. In summer we picked strawberries from the garden and slowly the trees began to signal the arrival of the year’s final season by turning golden, then auburn and finally falling to the ground to add fun to our search for conkers.
Nature’s gentle yet uncompromising movement is so deeply rooted in our existence and yet so often it is overlooked. We lock ourselves up in brick houses, with concrete gardens, eating whatever we want, whenever we want from giant supermarket chains, and we lose touch with nature’s subliminary indicators of time. Sure, shop window displays, social media and the occasional bank holiday weekend help us tap into the yearly calendar, but with Easter eggs hitting the shops not long after New Year and Christmas advertising appearing before Halloween, our awareness of the passing of time becomes completely out of sync with nature’s clock.
I lived in London for four very busy, very fast paced and exciting years. It’s a blip on the radar really but it was enough time for me to become totally spoilt. Not only could I buy the produce I wanted regardless of the season, I could also walk out my door and find authentic cuisine from all over the world. There was always something to do, a new friend, activity, distraction, and there was never time to get bored. Sometimes I’d just tell people I was busy so I could have a weekend to myself, watching films and doing my laundry.
It’s not the world that needs to stand still, but us.
When I left the UK to go travelling I was a small cog removed from the familiarity of my machine and all of a sudden, I couldn’t always get what I wanted. My favourite beach-hut in Goa from a previous visit, had been knocked down. The beaches in Bali weren’t golden sands bathed in hot sun… they were covered in plastic and stray dogs, and it was raining. And Uber existed but didn’t work. Cuba wasn’t full of people singing in the streets, jamming on percussion as they hung from colourful windows and retro cars. The reality was they were poor, and frustrated and it was depressing. And it was still raining. Peru, rain, Santa Domingo, rain. It was becoming abundantly clear that the world’s weather had no concern for my trip of a lifetime.
And it was of that which I needed to be reminded.
Of course, I’m painting only the dark patches and in truth I had a fantastic time on that trip. The people, the sights, the smells, the sounds, the stories and the unimportant details that will stay with me forever. Only when I stood still for a while after my adventures did I have time to digest and reflect.
We sometimes talk about wanting the world to stop, just for a moment so we can catch our breath. However it’s not the world that needs to stand still, but us. We need to remember that the world with its seasonal rules - and it’s prerogative to break them - has been around long before us, and will continue long after. We need to take notice, to check in and to benefit from connection with nature. I grew up with nature’s clock, I’d lived with London’s convenience and I’d abandoned the concept of time and season altogether by travelling quickly and randomly from country to country. I’ve come to learn how much I value nature’s calendar, and how my rudimental needs for connection are met by its patterns, its sights, its smells, its sounds; and how it’s important for me to actively stay tuned to the seasons because they provide a solid structure to life.
I’m now working (and playing) with a number of on/off grid environments and events (check out The Swirl), and am personally exploring the idea of a formula for the perfect experience. I know that mindset is a hugely important factor and I believe deeply that nature has an important role. Busy life, especially in big cities can be exhilarating but more and more often we hear about disconnection, depression, loneliness and that mindfulness and wellbeing are the key.
We need to absorb the seasons more meaningfully.
We need to absorb the seasons more meaningfully and not just pause for a summer holiday and a few days off for Christmas. We need to try to grow things. When I call home I love hearing what Mum’s cultivated from the garden for dinner, or what Dad’s been planting, building or cutting back around the farm. I tell them about what I have succeed - or often failed - to keep alive in my garden and they give me advice, one generation to another.
Here is something you can do today. Go outside and stand still. Listen for nature, to birds and rustling leaves; smell the seasons. Feel the sun or the wind or the rain on your skin and don’t think of it as an inconvenience - embrace it. Whether you like it or not, it’s a reminder that time is moving and you are a tiny cog in nature’s fantastic, patient, stubborn, ever turning, seasonal machine.
You can follow Vicky and her adventures in travel and food on her blog: http://vickyhunter.co.uk