All in outside: Making the most of a sunny day

It is just after sunrise, that moment when the soft, subtle glow on the horizon suddenly erupts, revealing the glorious sphere of sunlight. It casts its arrays without a band, illuminating the quiet morning to life. The mist that covers the fields begins to roll lazily away, like the sleepy teenager reluctant to wake up. A slight breeze gently rustles the trees. The critters begin to stir. There is nothing to impede the sun as it climbs its way into the divinely cerulean sky. It is one of those days.

As an outdoor enthusiast, I love a good sunny day as much as the next winter-weary east Tennessean. It should not come as a surprise that I regularly check the Weather Channel app on my phone, assessing the week, looking at rain chances and planning my outdoor pursuits accordingly. I grin at the forecasts with the little cartoon sun.

But, as strange as it may sound, sunny days make me somewhat uneasy. I know it seems counter intuitive, bizarre and basically crazy, but those kinds of days fill me with a certain amount of angst. Allow me to explain.

There is a lot of pressure associated with sunny days. An incredible amount of potential for all sorts of outdoor activities exists, from running to hiking and biking to swimming and everything in between. With this enormity of possibilities, how is an outdoor enthusiast to choose?

We want to be “all in,” after all. Suddenly it becomes a harrowing tyranny of choice. As earnestly as one may try, as often I do, it is nearly impossible to spend an entire 24 hours doing outdoor activities. Therefore, disillusionment is practically inevitable, inducing anxiety and remorse in those of us who care enough to recognize that we have disappointed the day.

When passionate zealots like me are faced with such a flood of opportunities, our first reaction is to embrace all of them. On a sunny, 70-degree day, you can bet we will try to run, bike, kayak, lay in a hammock, build a campfire and sleep under the stars.

That is being all in, right?

By the same token, we reduce, reuse, recycle, eat sustainably sourced hemp and flaxseed, install solar panels on our roofs, windmills in our back yards and raise chickens in our front yards, among every other possible “green” effort we can make. That is definitely being all in.

Yet we know we still have an impact on the planet. In the midst of our good-hearted intentions, in trying to be all in, we risk losing the intent itself. We do all these things because we care. But we can care so much that we forget what it is we care about.

Most of us will never be able, try as we might, to be all in. We will never cease to negatively affect the planet, just as we will always be slightly let down by an impossibly sunny day. Perhaps being all in does not mean doing everything we can, but rather alludes to the notion that we can do something. We can reduce, reuse, or recycle. Heck, we could install a solar panel or raise chickens. But what is more important is that we recognize and appreciate what we do and rest assured knowing the purpose behind our actions.

It is just before sunset, that moment when the last rays of sunlight melt into the horizon in a farewell display of colorful affection. An ebony cloak blankets the hushed night, tucking it in for a restful sleep. It needs it; it was one of those days.

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