Updated: Jan 19
I recently moved from the relative rural wild of Wiltshire in the UK to the very urban, busy and hot cosmopolitan City State of Singapore. My wife, Carrie, got a great teaching job and so we decided to head off on a new adventure.
Anybody that knows me will be able to tell you that Wild Adventure and nature connection are very important to me. What they may not know is why. Well in a nutshell being on an adventure, small or big and in nature represents, freedom, a chance to go inward and listen to natural sounds. When done with others it has been a great way for me to strengthen meaningful relationships. This is why, I guess, I have pursued a career in outdoor leadership.
"The importance of nature connection took on a greater importance in our recent great sequestration, during which time I also received a chronic cancer diagnosis. The way in which I connected to Nature also changed."
For me wild adventure and nature connection became less about big expeditions and summits and more about looking after my own mental and physical well being.
I began by leaving my front door and spending hours running and exploring new places around the beautiful Wiltshire Downs & Ridgeway. I’ve always been a runner, but it has been about going fast and getting good times. Looking back on these two years, I can see how I benefited from this new approach to adventure. It lifted my spirits, connected me with nature and ancient landscapes and gave me a renewed sense meaning. Of course I got fitter and stronger in the process too. What this all led to, was being able to share the experience of running 100K along the Ridgeway with my family and friends, something I'll never forget.
Alongside this I began daily breathing and cold water immersion inspired by the one and only Wim Hof. This dual practice helped to keep me strong and (relatively) illness and injury free. It was, in this sense, both an inner and outer adventure.
Once I was able, my bigger adventures became slower and more local, and I began to appreciate my connection with the elements even more, through cold water immersion, wild camping, journalling, fire time and standing atop of granite rocks after scrambling up them.
Inevitably, like so many of us, I began to see the city as a place separate to nature. This is rather ironic since I spent more than ten years advocating for sustainable urban development as the answer to humanities challenges for space to live, food security and the need to protect nature.
Now I have moved into what might be described as a very urban jungle. How have I coped?
I won’t sugar coat it. While the new Adventure with Carrie has been worthwhile, it’s been hard finding nature, meeting new friends and finding my meaning. Old routines were disrupted, and there were times that I felt more than a little lost in this new environment.
While seeking to find solutions, I came across, as you do, a great read called “Be More Human” by Tony Riddle. What I have taken from Tony is that there is a misconception that to be healthy we need to go back to nature and live as our ancestors did. Far from it! We can thrive as modern and urban Householders, simply by adopting more natural lifestyle choices that bring us back to our true nature. Enabling us to improve our health and wellbeing.
Singapore is actually one of the greenest cities in the world. There are more than 7,800 hectares of green spaces – nature reserves, gardens, and parks, linked by some 370 km of park connectors. The country, called the title red dot, is currently working towards a 2030 green plan to transform itself into a City of Nature.
Gradually, a new perspective has gripped me. I am reminded to adapt and not to reject my new highly urban / noisy / light polluted high rise living. Nature is everywhere. We are nature and it is a mistake to see nature and the wild as only out there.
This has helped me to slowly re-wild myself.
"I am happy to say, venturing out into nature has helped me to make some new friends. I have a renewed sense of what is possible in Singapore. I can cycle from my condo to see SaltWater Crocodiles. I can run with monkeys, wild boar and endless wild animals through the beautiful rainforest. I can get a bus and walk directly off the road into nature and spot wild Hornbills. The Botanical Gardens are world famous and have wild otters, sunbirds and lizards."
Alongside this getting outside I have also reengaged with my meaning, keeping healthy with a new yoga community, being the best partner I can and making my ongoing contribution to The Living Project’s Wild Adventures. Best of all is the warm humid climate. Cold water immersion has become cool water immersion (although I don’t swim with crocodiles)! I love walking around barefoot at home and the food is yum.
Singapore is a fascinating place, well worth the visit, and it is so close to many other fantastic travel destinations and big adventures. I will be back in the UK during 2023 to lead some wild adventures and to get my fix of a cooler temperate climate, familiar wild landscapes and keep important family and friendships alive.
(Wherever you are in the world)...