Written By Natasha Lee
With so many of us trying to reconnect with the ‘important things’ in life, especially since that little curve ball by the name of Covid-19 came hurtling our way, you’d be forgiven for falling into an inertia funk. You know what I mean. There’s so much pressure to use this time to do something that instead of actually doing something you do nothing and spend most of the time under the doona watching repeats of Dirty John (not that there is anything wrong with that).
But Sarah Wilson sees things differently. Instead of trying to connect with the ‘important things’, what we should really be trying to do is reconnect with ourselves. It’s hard and she gets it and she understands how much more dependent we are on things that zap our energy and steal our attention (such as social media etc) but she’s worked out a way to help us navigate the pandemic and, hopefully, take some of those skills to the other side of the crisis.
In her new book, This One Wild and Precious Life, Sarah talks to all of us about the sense of uncertainty we were feeling before the pandemic even hit – labelling it an ‘itch’ that something is awry … only we can’t quite put our finger on it.
She talks about the dichotomy of us being more connected than ever, but also the soaring rates of loneliness felt around the world.
It’s weird, right? Shouldn’t one cancel the other out? Not so, she says. That’s because our inability to be alone with our OWN thoughts provides the perfect breeding ground for that lonely feeling to metastasize.
But instead of rambling off into a great big lecture about her ideas, Sarah takes us on a journey, marrying her love of hiking with her philosophy. It’s a beautiful journey and Sarah has seamlessly managed to interweave her own life lessons with the clarity and grounding she believes hiking and being with nature provides.
“It’s funny – I wrote these chapters trying to encourage people at a psychological level and then Covid-19 happened … and then everyone experienced it for themselves,” Sarah told WSFM.
“So I had to shift those chapters a little bit and say, ‘Ok, you’ve had a taste of this, let’s have a reflection on it. Do you want to go back to the old ways?’ “
Sarah credits her upbringing with her life in the slow lane (she doesn’t even have a gear change on her bike) and says that it helps her to engage more fully in the flow and freedom of life.
“I’ve been a minimalist most of my life,” she said.” I don’t own a car. I ride a single-speed bike, I don’t even waste my energy on gears (told you). I’m wearing clothes from 25 years ago, and that’s just how I love living. That’s how I’ve grown up.”
And here’s the best part, according to Sarah.
When you rid yourself of all that excess weight that materialism forces us to carry – your life, I mean your actual life: the experiences, the emotions, the memories – they become a whole lot fuller.
For Sarah that’s certainly been the case.
“I’ve just become a foster parent to a nine-year-old girl,” she revealed, admitting that even though she’s “scared as hell” she’s excited at the challenge.
“I’m taking on a child and we’re going to have to become a little team together. It’s going to be a huge adjustment and push all sorts of buttons, but I think it will be wonderfully rewarding.”
Now with the weekend weather warming up, we asked Sarah to share her favourite hikes around Sydney that even novices will get a kick out of doing:
“I love catching a train down to Cronulla, and catching the ferry that goes across to Bundeena,” Sarah explained.
The area is home to the Royal National Park – which is the oldest national park in Australia.
“It’s absolutely stunning,” Sarah said, adding that she will “walk the whole lot over two days and camp halfway”.
For anyone starting out, however, she recommends just covering half of it.
Sarah said this is one of her favourite walks and is perfect for anyone starting out as there are lots of “train-to-train station” entry points.
“When you get there, you can descend into these beautiful estuaries and valleys and then come back up again,” she said.
Most of the walks are around 10km, which Sarah recommends doing across the day while stopping for a picnic in between.
If you’re really new to this hiking game (cough, cough) then Sarah suggests to start here.
According to the NSW Government’s National Park website, the track is an 8km loop which should take, at the most, just over two hours. So, very doable.
Sarah said she loves it because it’s “very easy to find and is a good one for the kids. You go through river crossings and come out at a cave with Aboriginal red hand paintings”.
Sarah Wilson’s book This One Wild And Precious Life is available now.
Unrelated but so relatable! Listen to our favourite moment from Jonesy & Amanda this week here: