Too many people, too much noise, no quiet to be found… Visiting the Big City can be completely overwhelming, sending anxiety higher than the looming skyscrapers. And when you are “Nature Girl,” how in the world do you survive a week of chaos?
Andowen has been begging to visit New York City for a few years now. Some of her favorite books and movies have connections to that place. She was thrilled to find the (imaginary) sites she wanted to see. And both of us agree that we are in no hurry to return to the hustle and bustle of that metropolis. As I have explained HERE and HERE, our daughter needs extended time in nature to find balance in life. Even I was overwhelmed as we braved the chaos. We were in desperate need of some Forest Therapy!
Fortunately for both of us, we discovered that there are bits of Nature to be found, even in a Big City. We reminded each other to use our senses to connect to the non-human world:
- We noticed Nature’s colors and changing light.
- We listened for flowing water, found in tiny parks.
- We enjoyed the wind and waves on our ferry rides in and out of the Big City.
- Rather than getting frustrated at a long wait for the ferry to load and unload (we were continuing on to the next stop), we focused on the dance of the seagulls playing in the wind.
Once our stress levels were lower, we began to notice that New York City is filled with quiet corners and tiny places to savor Nature. Here are a few of our favorite discoveries:
- At the World Trade Center memorial, the story of the Survivor Tree reminded us of the healing power of Nature—both for itself, and for grieving people.
- We found tiny courtyards with gardens and benches, a peaceful haven for weary walkers (often hidden beside churches).
- If you go to NYC, don’t miss walking “The Highline”—an unused elevated train track converted to a few miles of walking trail complete with gardens, set high above the busy streets.
- We also found little playgrounds every few blocks, covered by shady trees. I enjoyed sitting on a quiet bench with children’s laughter and chatter covering the noise of traffic. Andowen was excited to find her favorite “spinners” to play on.
These were some of the ways we found connections with Nature to help us survive a visit to the Big City. I’m curious how YOU thrive in a busy place—whether vacationing or living there?