This morning’s activity was simple. Flawless. Significant. Just perfect.

We walked silently.

Twenty people. No phones. No talking. 4-5 metres apart. We were asked to connect with nature, whichever way we needed to. Reflecting, thinking about specific moments in nature, observing everything or simply zoning out, eyes closed.

So we walked.

I was somehow transported back to specific places, moments.

To being fascinated by a wild orangutan nesting on trees, in Borneo. To roaming around the mossy, damp forest in the Cameroon Highlands, in Malaysia. To resting beneath the umbrella acacia trees in Kenya, reading Wangari Maathai’s perspective about nature. To trekking to that evergreen rainforest in Khao Sok National Park, admiring the sense of wonder of an 8 year old, fearless, Italian boy. To staying in the wooden eco-lodge in San Felipe, Italy, surrounded by woods with my family. To the waterfalls in El Nicho, Cuba, enclosed by green bushland. And then recently, hiking through the forest of the natural vegetation in Cavagrande del Cassibile, in Sicily. Everywhere I travelled to, during this morning’s walk, I wandered through greens.

Suddenly, I was elevated to the present greens. The now. It’s preposterous how our subconscious sometimes knows precisely where to lead us. I wasn’t the one directing my mind anymore.

From my vantage point, as I focused on the visible, my view was pastoral, idyllic. The morning’s low light lit up one side of the world in an imposing way. The trees on the same leaves were different, some bright, light, green, others dark and gloomy. The berries were divided in two, red and black, as were the flowers. This crafty duplicity cast by shadows and lights. I thought about how we can never have one without the other.

Eventually, I found myself in a small clearing. 20 people were dispersed around. Alone. I realized that the ‘no talking’ rule still applied so I sat and stared at the river, silently.

I smile and comprehend, so effortlessly, the extent to which I needed this simple, yet perfect, activity.

Being on an Erasmus+ mobility project, you get to be part of workshops, discussions, and sessions with this group of 20 people, for most of the day, discussing youths, activities, outdoors.

Now, these people being your close friends who have turned into one big family, means that you’re constantly and overwhelmingly engaged in conversation.

Be it the 5 minute cigarette break; the time when you’re trying to pee or shower or even take a sh*t in the shared bathroom; when you’re relaxing in the common area or drinking in a pub. You’re continuously, and inevitably verbalizing your innermost thoughts and opinions, opening up about things you wouldn’t have thought relevant or possible. You won’t have a break, you won’t have any alone time.

Now the problem is that you love this. And you love them. It happens so magnificently uncomplicated, smoothly, that 10pm conversations turn into 2am debates, and you haven’t even realised. (Estonia’s sky never completely turning dark might be another valid reason to be considered in this case.) So even if you’re knackered, you don’t want to miss anything.

Because the random dialogue, the contrasting views and opinions; the heated conversations, the arguments; the pooling of ideas, the collaboration in making a decision whilst considering 20 points of view (along with the sheer frustration that this caused.) The awareness of endless, new opportunities; the simple yet efficient tools we absorb through experiential learning; the skills, which we can later apply in our own lives and then with our youths. All of this is just too captivating, too stimulating to miss.

So yes, I’ve given up on my me-time.

Finally, while I’m chilled and calm after this morning’s walk, while I’m still craving time to read or just lay on the grass in silence, without having to participate in every activity, I know that I don’t want to miss anything. And this realisation, makes me super thankful for this opportunity. It makes me want to be involved, engaged during all the upcoming activities (although I suspect it won’t be hard if I’m sitting around a fire, storytelling and discussing while cooking sausages on the open fire.)

Thank you Estonia.

It’s been perfect, breathless, tiring and just amazing to identify and believe what we can achieve, together. (Even if we take SO MUCH longer.)

What a way to start my summer holidays.

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