It’s the time of year that calls for a clean break from everyday life. The need is strong for one last injection of airy vibrancy into our lives as the seasons change to honor the close of a beautiful, warm summer and to welcome in an energized, yet calming fall. It’s the ideal occasion to seek out an adventure in the natural surroundings that lay just outside of the typical work and life region to build inspiration and motivation for the months ahead. To refresh the body and mind through an environmental escape is an experience, and it’s a necessity. My best advice: go to a place where the breathing room already exists, that’s inherently free from common distractions and obligations, that requires little to no work on your end to cause the recentering effect to take place organically.
Finding your place away
Everyone needs that sweet spot away from their normal routines where they can disconnect from technology and let the buzzing of their mind settle down enough to refresh. For the past few years, around this time, I head just a few hours outside of my loud, bustling city of New York to a charming town in the Catskills Mountains called Phoenicia. It’s actually amazing how much crisper the atmosphere becomes, how saturated in color the environment turns, and how delicious (and clean) the mountain air tastes. I am always amazed most by the silence. At first, I thought it was eerily quiet, like someone just hit pause on life’s soundtrack. Swinging in a hammock between two trees in the grassy, sun-infused yard of my go-to hotel, The Graham and Co., surrounded by heavily forested mountains, the sound of a car passing on the nearby road only comes and goes every five to ten minutes or so. Once in awhile I catch a wind carrying a piece of someone’s conversation from a few properties over, or notice the soft hum of a couple of bicycles as they pass by. For the most part though, there actually seems to be no sound at all. This is the perfect yin to the yang of my everyday life. This is the formula that must be sought out.
Lessons from your surroundings
When day turned to night during my last trip to the Catskills, and I had to grab a sweater for sitting out by the bonfire to stargaze, I noticed that I had adapted in some way to my new temporary environment. I started to realize that it’s not quiet here at all. In fact, it’s very noisy here too, but in it’s own unique way. There’s the loud cracks of the fire in front of me causing small sparks to jump around, the rustling of leaves on tree tops clashing into each other when the wind blows, the attention grabbing snap of twigs in the nearby forest as small animals trample around, and the constant buzz of cicadas all night long. Once my ears had let down their guard from typical, harsh city sounds, and opened up to this quieter place, I was more able to hear these subtleties. It’s a different kind of noisy, and it causes me to tune in instead of zone out. I think that’s the most valuable lesson I relearn each time I go out to that sweet little town. The change in environment makes me feel like I’m turning my brain off to refresh, but in reality, I’m fine tuning and refocusing my energy in an intelligent way. It’s shaking up the daily regimen that allows for a sharpening of the senses and for a refined approach to life to then shine through.
Bringing it back with you
The challenge always becomes finding a way to take the valuable lessons learned in your found state of clarity and make them applicable to your life back home, in a way that will really make a lasting impact. We get so immersed into our routines that sometimes it takes a diversion to allow ourselves a step back to redefine our path with a clear head. Finding a way to bring yourself back to this clarity can be difficult, but it’s an ability worth developing because once successfully honed you will become more adaptable to virtually every situation. I wish I had all the answers, but I am still working this one out myself, reflecting on what worked so well for me then, and how I can find that feeling again while I’m back in the city. The one thing I know for sure about this process is that the first step is skipping town.
Amy Hillock is a freelance writer and an executive producer at ASSEMBLY9. She finds inspiration from following her curiosity around New York City and exploring the latest trends in fitness and wellness.