Take a Walk in the Park Day is celebrated annually on March 30, which encourages all of us to invest in our health without spending any money! (From the National Today website)
As a fanatical park-goer for years, I would have never thought a day was dedicated to this activity. It is such a trivial event compared to many ups and downs in our lives. It is truly remarkable to have such a day that reminds us to be thankful and reconsider the therapeutic benefits of park walks: relaxation, mindfulness, meditation, healing, and connection.
I like to walk in the park by myself after a long day. During my walks, I would often imagine how a park could ease the loneliness and isolation of my parents, who couldn’t speak English if they came to visit. Or I would think of my future kids, if any, who I would frequently bring to the playground in the park. Watching my parents and kids enjoying themselves amongst many other families in a park would be such a fulfilling and joyful thing.
So, the first house I bought is next to a great park within 2 minutes’ walking distance. As an immigrant from another country, I still remember how excited I was when I got the key to that house as a first-time homeowner. It felt like the American dream finally came true for a girl who grew up without drinking a drop of milk until coming to the United States for my studies in 2010. It was also the moment that I finally had rooms for myself and could arrange everything of my free will. That moment truly felt like going home – a fulfillment of my 29 years of yearning for a loving family.
Six years later, many things have happened and headed me in different directions. The house is about to change owners, and my dream for a family seems not as close to coming true. The only thing that remains unchanged and open to me is the park and my daily habit of taking a walk in the park. In hindsight, the six years of walking in the park is what has kept me floating in my life during the most turbulent moments. The healing power of nature, connection, harmony, and the hope of life are all found in this park.
Parks are often mindfully designed to contain nature’s beauty and provide convenient access for people. For city people, especially those who reside in high-rise buildings, parks are the closest gateway to nature, which help pace down the race at work and bring peace into one’s mind. Regardless of the size, all parks are so dynamic. In the small span of one day, sunrise, sunset, rain, or clouds help create a park’s different looks and experiences for people to enjoy. Simply observing these changes brings a delightful surprise and gratitude to mind.
The mystery and power of nature can allow us to feel humble as well as taken care of in front of the creator. I can’t remember how many times I began my walk with a heavy heart and slowly that heaviness eased off, as I was eventually delighted by the simple joy of life itself: a bush of colorful wildflowers, a group of carefree waterfowls, a sacred color of sunset or sunrise, or a soothing breeze. These natural wonders often fill our hearts with gratitude for our lives and rekindle the courage to face whatever comes our way. Even if we may feel that nothing good is happening for us, we still have the sun, moon, air, trees, and flowers in a few minutes’ walk in the park. All the natural scenery reminds me that peace and joy are not possessions or achievements. It is about relishing this moment, living in the present, enjoying the trees, feeling the breeze, being grateful for what I have, and letting go of the past.
In society, most places worship speed and efficiency. Parks offer the space and magic to help us slow down and reconnect with ourselves, family, friends, pets, and nature. I always find healing power in watching the ordinary scenes of daily life being lived: dog owners walking pets, parents watching toddlers, teenagers hanging out, ladies having picnics together, people jogging around the path, a family fishing … Every day different people come and go. The symphony of people and life always goes on with the same harmony without rehearsal: connection is lovely, life is worthy of living. It keeps reminding us that true joy could be so simple, a smile from strangers, a random talk, or a short walk with loved ones.
In this super-efficient world, we strive to create more technologies, materials, and new forms of virtual communication platforms. However, more and more people feel lonely and isolated. We sometimes forget that simple is more. All we sometimes need may be taking a walk in a park, listening to our own hearts, feeling our emotions, observing nature, leaving time for loved ones, and experiencing life itself.
If possible, take a walk in the park today!
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