According to the UN 54% of the world’s population live in cities, a figure that is only expected to increase. Man made dominates in the city, a concrete jungle of traffic, wifi, and pollution in all it’s forms are ever present. Nature doesn’t get much of a look in except in our small backyards, parks, or tree lined roads. Which means that an increasing number of the world’s population are not getting a daily connection to nature. I am one of them. With this realisation I wanted to see if there was a way to connect with nature on a daily basis while remaining very much in the city and in my regular routine. I decided I would watch the sunrise every day for a month. It wouldn’t be a big connection, it would undoubtedly be better if I could go off and climb a mountain every day, but it would be a closer connection than if I did nothing which was a step int he right direction.
Now I should make one thing clear, I have never been a morning person. I have very strongly been in the ‘snooze until it is almost impossible to get where you need to go in time’ category. I always wanted to be a morning person, it’s just the evening version of myself with all the good intentions to get up early differed from the morning version of myself who had control of the snooze button. The same “morning me” definitely put up a strong case as to why I should stay in bed at 5:20am when the alarm went off on the first day of July. But as I climbed up onto my roof with the all important cup of tea carefully balanced in one hand and sat watching the sun lazily creep up over the horizon, I wondered why I didn’t do this every morning. The city is a very different place at that time of day. A blanket of peacefulness drapes over an otherwise hectic scene. People create a lot of noise when they are awake, it is amazing how many other things you can hear when most of us are asleep, especially the birds. I guess every time I had been up at that time of day I was in a rush to go somewhere, I had never simply sat and observed. But the birds of the city put on an impressive daily performance to a sleeping audience.
As the month went by I started to notice other changes in the environment that I would have otherwise missed. A foggy day had far more consequences on my morning than before as it made for a dull view. For a few days in a row the city even had smoke from a nearby forest fire block the view entirely. I had to, rather happily, adjust my alarm clock each morning to account for the slightly later sunrise and noticed the sun start to edge her way south as the days grew marginally shorter. All of these are things I knew happened but I had never sat to experience the subtle changes myself.
As for all the negatives of getting up early none really manifested. I wasn’t constantly exhausted, if anything I felt refreshed. I was able to establish a morning routine with far less distractions and achieve things before my day had usually started. The biggest lesson from all this however was that you don’t have to make big changes to change. You don’t need to quit your job and live in a cabin in the woods to be connected to nature. The smallest actions can be enough to put you a step closer to where you want to go. If you take lots of small steps soon enough you’ll have run a marathon.