The Weekly - May 19, 2020 - 22

Field Notes
G .


The Practice of Resilience

During this time of crisis, we must all rely on the skills we have learned from
our time in nature and continue to build upon them. By José G. González

I stare out the window of my apartment in Sacramento, California.
On calm days, there's a splendid
view into my neighbors' verdant
backyard with its dutifully tended
gardens and trees. I can also see
squirrels playing and hear birds
chirping. On other days, I'm hit by
the jarring sounds of leaf blowers,
construction, and the unwelcome
cacophony of city life. But, today,
it's just me, trees, birds, and a
breeze. This, along with walks
around the neighborhood and
maintaining my goal of a daily run,
is how I am getting my daily nature
fix. It's during these constitutionals
that I reflect on how my relationship with nature-in its full and
growing complexity-continues to
equip me to deal with trying times.
Resilience is, by definition, being "able to withstand or recover
quickly from difficult conditions"
and being able "to recoil or spring
back into shape after bending,
stretching, or being compressed."
It may seem like an innate
characteristic, like that of a rubber
ball, but it is also a skill, or a set
of skills, for us humans. Since it is
a skill, that means it's something
we can practice. Resilience is
built on a foundation of physical,
emotional, and mental health
that provides grounding, clarity
of mind for decision-making and
framing, and processing through
learning. That includes failing.
Resilience is not simply "being
positive and looking at the bright
side" or just "taking the punches."

For me, resilience is about moving
through the awareness of process
when faced with a challenge, making a choice, and being aware of
the consequences of my actions.
We develop strengths through
challenge and discomfort, much
like how we go to the gym to
improve our fitness or train for
some endeavor. When we do that,
we create physical discomfort
with the intention of developing
more physical strength ... and
resilience. I use the same approach
when I face mental and emotional
discomforts and challenges. It is
important to note that this training calls for planning. When you
engage in physical workouts, you
don't just lift the heaviest thing,
run carelessly, consume whatever
you want, or fail to seek help when
appropriate. That's how you can
hurt yourself. So remember: It's
okay to ask for help, to pay attention to what is too much, to note
what you are consuming, to set
rest and recovery time, and so on.

nature and the outdoors is a big
component of practicing resilience.
The outdoors is a place of recreation, but it is also a place for wellness and education. I venture out
for restoration, but the outdoors
has also offered manageable dollops of resilience-building. It has
provided a reservoir I draw upon
in challenging times such as these.
The outdoors has been a platform
of reflection for these ideas, as
well a place of work where I have


shared these practices with community. It has provided reminders,
offerings, lessons, rest, and more.
This is the power of the nature
connection for me, and I feel the
added importance of ensuring equitable access for a myriad of communities for whom that connection has been severed, destroyed,
devalued, or denied.
In Lak'ech, or sometimes In
Lak'ech Ala K'in, is a phrase
attributed to the late Mexican
anthropologist Domingo Martínez
Paredes, professor at the National
Autonomous University of Mexico
in the '70s and the author of several books on Mayan thought and
culture. It found its way into Chicano culture and writings as well
to express this idea of being and

unity, of how "I am you and you
are me." It's had a powerful sense
of expression since then.
Thus, to care for nature is to
care for myself-an ecological In
Lak'ech-that prepares me in many
ways for when I have to be proactive for nature, rather than reactive
by nature. Again, as a skill, not an
innate trait-so I will stumble and
make mistakes; it's always a question of when, not if, but done with
intention so that each time I hope it
will be part of a deliberate process
that builds resilience.
And nature will continue to offer
gifts and learnings. As the flowers
and wild grasses that thrive after
a fire remind me, you grow and
persevere; you move toward the
light. We model a life ever-resilient
as we stumble on in this cosmic
The founder of Latino Outdoors,
José G. González is a speaker, illustrator, and educator who loves
to share his outdoor vision.



The Weekly - May 19, 2020

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