Torn between technology and my true nature

I pull up into my driveway late on a Friday night, and before I shut off the engine, I notice that the dashboard clock reads “12:00 a.m.” Fatigue blurs my vision as I enter the house, yet I still decide to watch a couple minutes of Netflix anyway, feeling a familiar urge to look at a screen. Before I know it, 2 a.m. has rolled around, and I inevitably wake up groggy the next morning. Instantly checking my phone, I noticed unread messages from my brother asking me if I was still planning on watching the sunrise with him. I slept through our plan, and realized technology use is taking away from simple yet meaningful experiences. What could I do to escape this constant cycle?

I found my solution, and my own personal lifeline, right outside my window. 

When I immerse myself in nature I feel reset, finding peace in national forests, backpacking excursions, or simple strolls through our city’s parks. I have been embarking on these adventures since I was too young to carry the weight of my own gear. Being in the natural world allows my emotions to no longer be entangled in the complexities of the internet. It lets me be present and reconnect with simplicity.

Not only do the great outdoors allow for a break from technology, but it also reminds me of the importance of being mindful. Instead of fixating on the future, or having my head bent over my phone, I’m forced to pay attention to the present environment around me. On one backpacking trip, while exploring creek beds, I felt sharp pains on my legs and realized the Manzanita plants were tearing at my skin. Unlike being at home, the clothes I wear when backpacking need to be thought out, and pants become protection from nature rather than a fashion statement. On another occasion, a deer came by my camp to graze upon the leftover crumbs from dinner, prompting me to remember to be more careful with my dishes. These experiences might have seemed negative at first, but reflecting on them now helps me recognize the importance of being aware of my surroundings. In my everyday life, my mind becomes scattered by technology and urban living. But after going on a backpacking excursion, I find myself wishing to stay in the woods forever, as the outdoors allow me to break free from an artificial world. 

Often, I find myself focusing on the future rather than enjoying the present, but nature has helped me understand the importance of reuniting with simplicity.

I recognize that not everyone is able to escape the city, but I find appreciating the bits of nature spread across San Francisco to be just as rewarding. As the summer fades and the school year starts, I slowly slip back to the dry world of concrete and steel. Technology once again begins to play a prominent role in my life. The stress of school work weighs heavily on my mind and my eyes ache from staring at my computer screen. In search of a remedy, I take a walk in Golden Gate Park on a fall Saturday afternoon. Forgetting my phone at home, I find myself wandering up Strawberry Hill in the middle of Stow Lake. Once I make it to the top and sit upon a bench, I begin to feel a familiar calm trickle into my consciousness. Seagulls soar above me and I can hear the sound of the water cascading into the lake. I pull out a notebook from my backpack and begin sketching the natural scenery, now understanding what purpose the park serves. 

It is vital for me to find places where I can quiet my mind and take a step back from my stresses. Often, I find myself focusing on the future rather than enjoying the present, but nature has helped me understand the importance of reuniting with simplicity. I hope everyone takes the chance to slow down and look up from their school books or phones every once in a while, appreciating the world we often take for granted: a simple gust of wind, the intensity of a rainstorm or a fallen leaf. From now on, I plan to spend more time in the present, and maybe this time, I’ll finally get to witness that sunrise.