Go outside!

For a long I meant to put a link on this blog that just said, ‘go outside’.

It would say, ‘instead of reading this blog too much, you’d be much better off getting offline and going outside. It’s better for you!’

The reason I’ve been writing a lot less lately is that I’ve been following my own advice. Getting offline as much as possible. Reducing my online responsibilities to a minimum, making space for real life! After years of being solidly online, I really need it.

Yesterday I cycled 60km around the outskirts of Madrid, in a loop called the ‘anillo verde’, the green ring. Some of it is quite green, but mostly it’s quite urban, and often quite near big roads.

But I saw… an eagle following me overhead (and wondered if it was waiting for me to fall off from exhaustion and eat me!), I saw a tiny church built into the arch of a vast bridge, I saw endless school playgrounds with the kids playing at break-time and loved their screams and laughter. I sang from spontaneous happiness for a quarter of the trip. I watched how my mood changed as I got tired. I had a Snickers bar for the first time in years and loved it. I saw how the trail was accompanied again and again by one of my favourite blue flowers and made up a gatha (mindfulness practice verse) about it:

Cycling through the ultimate dimension,
Blue flowers line my path.
My heart is full of happiness.

And I really felt it! I saw a despondent, shaven-headed teenager sitting on a bench in an empty park, looking lovingly into his dog’s eyes as he held its head in his hands, and I wondered what he would do without it. I saw vast houses behind great walls in El Puerto de Hierro, and the run-down poorer blocks of San Blas. I saw the most wonderful clouds sailing above me, slid fresh from a baking tray by the great cloud-cook in the sky.

I saw so much on my day on the bike that I’m still remembering it now. Rollerskaters, walkers, bikers, mums, dads, kids, bridges, tunnels, buildings, the smell of pine, of honeysuckle, of strimmers on dry grasses…

So if I don’t write here that often these days it’s because I’m out there soaking up the wonderful outside world in the here and now. What a joy! I hope you can find time to get outside and look at the extraordinary world too. Right now perhaps? As my wife always says, “It’s good to get out”.

5 thoughts on “Go outside!”

  1. As I read this I’m looking out my office window at the sailboats gliding along Lake Geneva and wishing I could follow your advice. Instead, I’m heading to a meeting, but I will be sure to enjoy being outside on my walk home this evening! Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Hi Ben, I’ve been a fan of Notes in Spanish for many years and also really enjoy reading your thoughts on happiness. I rediscovered your blog the other day as I was writing a post for my own blog. I had vaguely remembered seeing a quote somewhere about how everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about. I found the quote and image I wanted on Google and was amazed when it brought me to one of your posts from a couple of years ago! I hope you don’t mind that I used it in my post here: http://www.thenomadicvegan.com/finding-compassion-in-a-place-called-slaughter/
    Have a very happy day!

    1. Hi Wendy, of course I don’t mind! That’s funny that google brought you back here again! I hope you are enjoying your evening walks with the sailboats!

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