44th edition: Country calm & letting stuff breathe ⛰️
Why mountains, lakes & dirt roads fill us with a vigour that hustling and instant gratification can't
Happy Wednesday, I hope you’re having a wonder-full week.
Calmness washes over me when I hear the crunching of tires turning off a paved highway onto a dirt road. The car rattles gently marking the shift from “city” to “country” life. That was the case early last week when I joined my family for a vacation at our cottage on Lac Green roughly two hours outside of Montreal.
Growing up, the cottage belonged to my grandparents—and my three siblings, six cousins, and I spent our summers there. We were lucky most of us were close in ages, and we would entertain ourselves for hours by playing games in the water, making our parents judge diving competitions, and organizing picnics on the island in the middle of the lake. Not to mention our daily tube rides—which were our biggest thrill—and yet at 32, I can’t imagine enjoying smashing into waves and being ejected in the aftermath. Clearly, things change. But that’s what keeps life interesting, right?
Let stuff breathe
As an adult, being “up north” as us Montrealers call it, signifies a more mellow way of life—one with less distractions and more space. Here’s how National Geographic describes the Laurentian region:
“The Quebec landscape ranges from rounded mountaintops to soft, rolling hills generously sprinkled with more than 9,000 freshwater lakes and a host of Swiss-like, small towns.”
Paints quite a picture, doesn’t it?
The imagery alone is enough to make you breathe more deeply as you visualize being amongst nature and the charm of “the simple life.” It’s a great reminder that slowing down and activating multiple senses makes us more present—more in tune with our surroundings.
When it comes to our work or getting the results we want, we benefit from letting stuff breathe. Often we fire off texts, instant messages, and emails expecting immediate responses. And when we find ourselves waiting for a response, it’s easy to overanalyze and harp on worst-case scenarios, pick up our phones and start scrolling—or use other mindless distractions to fill our time. But in the country, you don’t do that.
Maybe it’s the grandness of the mountains and lakes that give us perspective on what’s really cause for worry, versus when to be patient and calm the hell down. But being in the country fills you with a vigour that no amount of hustling and instant gratification can.
⛰️ REFLECTION: What grand sights or places fill you with vigour? How can you visit them regularly to recenter and gain perspective on your life and your work?
Sometimes a bit of research helps you uncover hidden gems in your area. For instance, in addition to the Buddhist monastery I mentioned above, I was equally mind-blown to find out about Calvaire d'Huberdeau (or Stations of the Cross in English)—a reenactment site portraying Christ's crucifixion with bronze-covered statues leading up a mountain.
“Around 1920, the Fathers of Montfort imported from Vaucouleurs, France, 27 magnificent statues, each seven feet high and weighing some 700 pounds. The figures include three crosses—Christ and the two thieves—the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, Saint John, Roman soldiers and others.” —Bonjour Quebec
You would need to see how small and remote the town of Huberdeau—the next town over from our lake—is to understand how wild it is that these massive statues were imported from another small, remote town all the way in France.
So chances are there must be some wild discoveries for you to make in your area?
That’s all for today. Thanks for being one of my first 216 subscribers.
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Have a wonder-full week,
P.S. If one of the grand sights you’re getting reinvigorated by is the ocean, feel free to send me a snap for some vitamin sea. I usually manage to see the ocean at least once each summer but this year I opted for a staycation instead.
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