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The lesson of when to slow down - bugs on a nature hike in the forest.    

Lessons from Nature:
Hiking in the Forest

"... The bugs were everywhere ... I grew increasingly frustrated ... I wondered how the bothersome bugs of my life kept me from noticing really important stuff."

Hiking in the Forest -
Knowing When to Slow Down

(c) 2004 Theresa Gabriel. Used with Permission.

One morning in mid summer, I headed out for some time to myself on the trails of Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, Nebraska. As usual, I stopped in at the Visitor Center to pay the entrance fee, then got back in my car and drove a couple miles down a long and winding road to the quieter back entrance.

It was a typical warm and humid summer day in Nebraska. Starting out on the lush green trail, I was already uncomfortably warm. The bugs were everywhere: mosquitoes, gnats, flies, bees, you name it.

I followed the stream trail, which made its way through four-foot high grass. I tried to enjoy the setting but had to constantly fan away the bugs in front of my face. I grew increasingly frustrated.

Eventually becoming exasperated with the bugs, I stopped dead in my tracks and waved my arms all around while turning around in a circle. I accentuated my attack on the insects with a slight growl to alleviate my anger. Just then the whole world moved and went tearing around me. After my initial shock, I saw what I had missed the moment before.

It seems that a deer had been nestled in the tall grass just one foot, (one foot!) from where I stood. I missed it because of my preoccupation with the insects which I believed were bent on ruining my morning. When I started making such a fit, the deer was forced to abandon its spot. It leaped in the air right before my eyes, literally, and dashed off for better cover.

It was too late. I missed it. Now I was attentive and ready to see what was around me, but the sight that might have been seen was gone. It killed me to know that I missed the enjoyment of being so close to wildlife! Immediately I wondered what else I was missing, and not just there on the trail. I wondered how the bothersome bugs of my life kept me from noticing really important stuff. This has become a life lesson that I’ve remembered often. It’s affected my visits with my Grandma, the time alone with my husband, and get-togethers with friends. It’s affected my ‘to do’ lists. My motto is “If I don’t do it, will anybody notice?” If it doesn’t ‘add value’, I simply cross it off my list. I’ve learned from my mistake.

One day this summer while visiting Colorado, my husband and I sat quietly on the bank of a pond and watched swallows dance in the air to catch flying prey. I was amazed at the sharp changes of directions they could make in mid-air. After I sat there for quite some time wearing my bright green hiking hat, an equally green hummingbird flew up to within two inches (two inches!) of my eyes, gave me a look over, and flew away. He was gone, having paused only for one full second, but this time I didn’t miss it. I remember exactly what that hummingbird looked like.

About the Author

Theresa Gabriel: Expert Guide and Personal Coach

Paths began to beckon Theresa when she was 12 visiting the Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming. Walking, dancing, and movement are a part of her, nourished by John Denver's musical challenge for her to "fly." She has walked up mountains and through forests in Wyoming, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. She's lived in Germany and has traveled extensively in Europe, even leading a pilgrimage. Her recent walks in the Grand Canyon and Alaska inspired her to begin her dream business of "walking with women." Learn more about Theresa Gabriel and her Life Discovery Tours at her website: www.womensummit.com

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