My hotel room smelled like cheap disinfectant. It wasn’t the ugliest room I’ve ever slept in (at least it had a functional toilet and properly-wired light switches), but it was close.

I knew I couldn’t spend the whole evening there. I needed green space. I needed fresh air. I needed some mindful wandering to help me process all of the wonderful things that had happened on my trip before returning home early the next morning.

So I did what I often do – I opened Google maps and looked for the nearest green patch on the map. About a quarter mile away, past the industrial wasteland, across a freeway, and at the edge of the suburbs, there was a strip of green along what looked like a tiny creek. Hmmm… it looked promising.

What a delightful surprise I found when I crossed that freeway and climbed the embankment! There was a protected greenbelt running along the creek, with a beautiful walking/biking path that stretched out for seemingly miles.

I’m happy for groomed trails when I’m on my bike, but when I’m walking, I always look for the “path less traveled”. Sure enough, closer to the creek was a rugged path made for adventurers like me. Everyone else took the easy path – I climbed through the underbrush to find the one closer to nature.

For the next two hours, I wandered wherever my curiosity would take me. I climbed under bridges, I knelt on the damp ground to get closer to the violets, I scampered after bunnies, and tried (unsuccessfully) to take pictures of an elusive red bird. I scratched myself on low-hanging branches, and I nearly got stuck in the mud.

I was my 10 year old self again, finding secret hideaways in the woods on our farm.

It was heavenly. It was like a deep exhale after an exciting but full and intense week.

Wandering is my meditation, my therapy, my brainstorming session, my stress-reliever, my playtime, and my teacher. It fills me up in a way that few other activities do.

What about you? Do you love to wander? Or perhaps you haven’t discovered the beauty of wandering yet. Check out my e-book on the topic. It’s full of goodness, including interviews with a dozen other people who know the power of wandering.

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