The Joy Of Hitting “Repeat” In Nature

By Therese Oldenburg, Executive Director, Nature At The Confluence and Co-Coordinator of Rock River Trail

If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that there is a lot of beautiful places to visit and experience not far from home that can lift your spirit. What I’ve found most rewarding is walking the trails at Nature At The Confluence several times a week and finding new things to see and hear, and finding new ways to experience nature. It’s never the same walk, as new things are exposed, or even obscured as the season changes. Even the time of day I visit makes a difference because the lighting changes what I see, or how I see it.

Find “Your Place”

You can choose one place to visit through the seasons, such as a park, and make it “your place”, or it could even be one small place in that park, such as log or rock you sit on, noticing all the ways your place changes through the season.

I enjoy capturing those differences through photography. But you could do the same thing through sketching, note taking, making rubbings,  or recording sounds. Or, you can just simply enjoy taking in all the gifts of nature without any obligation to record it. But, I find that recording it helps solidify the experience in my mind, and I find it enjoyable to look back on how “my place” changes through the year.

There is joy in repetition

Leah Fessler wrote in the New York Times article The Unexpected Joy of Repeat Experiences, “There is joy in repetition partly because every human mind wanders. Consequently, we miss a substantial part of every experience. So repeating things can really be seen as another opportunity to actually experience something fully. In fact, it’s safe to assume there are more explorable layers in any experience, according to Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard and the so-called “Mother of Mindfulness.” That’s because the process of looking for new insights in any repeat experience is fulfilling in and of itself. It’s the essence of mindfulness.”

So I encourage you to seek out an old, familiar natural space near you and intentionally see it with new eyes and new ears, and I think you’ll leave your “place” with a renewed spirit. 

Watch our “Hit Repeat” video for inspiration or visit our Rock River Hiking Trail page to find a beautiful location on the Rock River to explore.

Note: Nature At The Confluence is the location for the visitor center for the Rock River Trail and is located in South Beloit, IL.

All photos in “Hit Repeat” were captured by Therese Oldenburg as she walked the trails at Nature At The Confluence throughout the seasons.