You know when you’ve been holding your breath, but you don’t realize it until you finally exhale? I had that feeling when I arrived in Pucon a few days ago. I’d been enjoying the bigger cities so much that I hadn’t even realized my body was craving nature. But once I got here, to this cozy little mountain village with its stunning volcano and sparkling lake, I felt that wave of instant peace and serenity that you can only find in the outdoors. I don’t know how I could’ve let myself forget.
I had a similar experience this past summer. The school year had just ended and I had no idea where my life was headed in the coming year. Nerves were shot, I was bloated from too much coffee and sugar, and my insomnia had started to take a noticeable toll on my appearance. I felt destroyed. Half alive. Unhappy and unhealthy. I needed a break.
I hadn’t visited my dad’s house in Wisconsin for four years. I had all sorts of excuses. It wasn’t the house I grew up in, so I had never really considered it “home”. Plus, he visited so often that it hardly seemed necessary. And honestly, huge family gatherings in years past with cousins and spouses and kids had only left me feeling completely alone. So I had been hesitant to return. But this summer, “basecamp”, as my dad lovingly refers to his refuge in the woods, was the only place I could think of to go.
I’m sure he could tell right away that I was miserable. I walked around in a hazed state of exhaustion the first few days, blaming my low energy on the long car ride and lack of coffee. He let me be, giving me plenty of solo time, and was nothing but supportive when I revealed that I’d officially left my job. And so I spent my days kayaking on the water, napping in the tree house, hiking through the woods…and I slowly began to heal. I began to feel more and more like a human being. More like me. I could sleep again; I could breathe again.
That week in Wisconsin helped my body remember what my mind had somehow, inexplicably, forgotten: I love being surrounded by nature. My soul needs it. And this place reminds me of home (I’m actually writing this post in a tiny tree house overlooking the lake). At this point in my journey, even though I hadn’t realized it, I desperately needed a nature fix to reenergize. It seems I have found my little “basecamp” here in southern Chile, and I feel restored.