Before delving head first into the second half of 2017 I wanted to take a moment to reflect on #30DaysWild, its impact and what lessons, if any, I can take forwards. That might sound a little corny and far too close to the “finding myself” mantra spouted from many a work shy teen and honestly, if you’d said the same thing to me a month ago, I’d have been right there with you. The truth is that I entered this challenge for a couple of good reasons, none of which involved a journey of self-discovery. The first? A simple desire to spend more of our time outside. Paired with this came the urge to engage with the natural world ever more deeply and if I could spread the word a little through this blog? All the better.
On all three counts I consider the past thirty days a success. We spent at least an hour outside every day, often more, and by blogging almost as regularly managed to spread our enjoyment far and wide. That last point in particular was personally very satisfying as the #30DaysWild posts garnered my greatest engagement across various social media platforms to date. Thanks to everyone that read, shared or liked and I’d like to think that somewhere out there we’ve managed to spark the curiosity of at least one person to bring a little slice of wild into their everyday lives.
So on the face of it then job done. I agree completely but it’s the more unexpected outcomes that are likely to leave the biggest personal impact.
The power of wild
The real purpose of #30DaysWild was to encourage more of us to connect with nature and on that front we did very well indeed. From Ireland to the Peak District to Wales, across land and sea, we ended up very well travelled and had some great encounters along the way. That Barn Owl near Carsington Water stands out as a particular highlight but being intercepted by pods of Common Dolphin runs it a very close second. We even managed to do a little good along the way including taking part in several citizen science projects of which Project Splatter (still a great name) featured most prominently. Hidden within that goal however was for participants to discover the power of wild when it comes to the way we as humans feel. It’s becoming increasingly well understood that our ever more isolated lives, be it on a relationship basis or our disconnect from the natural world is doing anything but make us happier. The power of re-establishing those lost links is not to be underestimated and my own experiences through #30DaysWild have certainly born that out. Behind the scenes this month there have been a couple of instances which proved very stressful. I genuinely don’t think I could have dealt with these as well as I have done had it not been for the opportunity to escape into the great outdoors. The chance to relax and simply be is a rare enough thing thanks to today’s rapid pace of life and I’d recommend we all do our bit to reverse that trend. Trust me you won’t regret it.
A sense of purpose
It’s perhaps telling that over last weekend I found myself almost at a loss as to what to do next. Sure I’ve got plenty of projects on the go and a house that is always in need of attention but somehow nothing seemed to grab me. I wondered initially if this frame of mind coming off the back of #30DaysWild was just a coincidence but now genuinely believe that one caused the other. I was on such a high for the past few weeks exploring, photographing, writing and sharing that for it all to stop, or at least pause, was something of a come down. Indeed I’ve only really perked up by sitting down to pen these words and for me that’s very telling. People say that doing something is never a chore if you genuinely love it and I think I’ve finally realised that the one thing I love above all else is this. The very act of experiencing or discovering something, capturing it on camera and then sharing is what I want to be doing, whether that be through the written word, video or tweet. That this can only occupy a small part of my everyday life is therefore unfortunate and by deduction means that I spend a good chunk of life not loving what I do. Now don’t get me wrong I have a great time and enjoy work but that’s not to say that I couldn’t be enjoying it even more. I think I’ve known that for a long time really as virtually since the inception of this blog I’ve had a line in my bio about hoping to move to the Isle of Mull in the future. Such a move would be less about a new home and more a new lifestyle including becoming self-employed. With Mull being such a special place that would hopefully mean being wildlife focussed but to get there will require a great deal of planning and not some inconsiderable luck. On the planning front there’s no time like the present so I’m going to start exploring what options could be available and how we might go about achieving them. I know what I want to be doing it’s now just a question of getting there.
For the love of writing
Despite the dread I feel upon being faced with another blank page, as soon as I start typing the words more often than not flow easily. According to many of my readers they’re even quite good which as someone who has had to increasingly learn that one’s own views are generally far too harsh, I shall take at face value. I’ve even been told that perhaps I should try some freelance work and you know what, I think I will. My history does include a couple of published articles way back when and having watched a couple of family members build their own niches in this field, it’s definitely something I want to have a crack at. I’m under no misconception that this is not an incredibly competitive arena to enter but not to try means certain failure. In the mean time I’ll continue blogging as often as I can as I continue to hone and develop my style.
Blogging is fantastic
This one might seem a little strange as a self-professed blogger but there has been the odd occasion where I’ve begun to question the whole thing. One need only look at the occasional blank gaps on this very blog as proof. However, the last twenty two posts for #30DaysWild have proven beyond doubt that the platform is still very much alive and that I want to remain an active part of that community. I’ve been able to find some excellent new blogs to follow and as mentioned above have received some great engagement coming back the other way. The only problem is that with so much content out there garnering new readers is increasingly tricky. My own view count has remained relatively static for the past couple of years which is great on one hand but there’s definitely room for growth. Another area which will require thought and focus in the coming months.
I take photos almost every day and usually I’d like to think that they’re pretty good. There’s always been that niggling thought however that I could be doing even better but to do that I need to make a technical leap. For years now I’ve been using bridge cameras and feel I’ve pretty much extracted the best I can performance wise from the current crop. With no massive step changes on the horizon that leaves me with the oft debated move over to an SLR. If you’ve been with me since the beginning then you’ll know that this has been something on my mind for a long time. The difference now is that I’m finally in a financial position to do something about it and with a great deal of practice, who knows what new avenues may open. I’m not promising or finalising anything yet but it’s another topic to which I will be giving some serious thought.
So where does that leave us now? I’ve talked a lot about myself in this rambling entry, more than ever probably, mostly because I find that writing things down is the best way of gathering my thoughts. This has ended up serving two purposes which we shall deal with separately.
The first was to look at the effect that #30DaysWild has had. In case there was any doubt the answer is hugely beneficial. If even some of the over 40,000 people taking part has felt even a modicum of the same impact then the broader effects could be immeasurable. Hats off therefore to the Wildlife Trusts for creating and promoting the whole event and long may it continue. I for one will be back next year.
The second has acted as almost a second stab at some new year’s resolutions. That really wasn’t my intention when sitting down to write this but I’m certainly glad for the way it’s developed. I’ve got a good couple of weeks coming up with time to think a little more so we’ll see where that takes us. There’s unlikely to be any grand public statements as I’ve fallen foul of those all too often so I’ll be letting things develop organically over time.
Which brings us rather nicely to some sort of conclusion and the sub-heading of this section – #365DaysWild. If the benefits of a single month have been this great it would be foolish to stop now so I’ll be making sure that I try to continue the challenge for the rest of the year. I can’t guarantee that most days will be blog worthy but rest assured that of those that are, you’ll all be the first to know.