HGTV’S PAUL LAFRANCE

Recharge with na­ture

Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - - Contents -

Wan

hen I tell peo­ple that I am

“introvert” I am usu­ally met with in­cred­u­lous glances and the odd “yeah, right” as though I am about to tell a joke. Well, it’s true.

The con­fu­sion lies in the fact that I am an A-type per­son­al­ity introvert. This can also be de­scribed as an am­bivert. I don’t re­ally take much stock in any of th­ese la­bels, but they ba­si­cally ex­plain that while I love in­ter­act­ing with peo­ple and have never been known to shy away from the stage or spot­light, I also ab­so­lutely crave my alone time. In fact, it is in soli­tude that I reen­er­gize, and I need a lot of reen­er­giz­ing!

I have found that in order for me to truly recharge, I need to be away from ev­ery­thing. I am very grate­ful that even though we live in the fastest and most mind-numb­ing cul­ture in hu­man his­tory, all I need in order to de­tach from the clang and clat­ter is trees…lots and lots of trees. If I am sud­denly un­reach­able, it’s be­cause I’m in a for­est.

Na­ture has the in­cred­i­ble abil­ity to calm our fraz­zled hu­man brains, if we’ll let it. For me, there is some­thing about walk­ing in the midst of those gen­tle sway­ing gi­ants. It is as though they are star­ing down at me, talk­ing amongst them­selves about why I am so full of fret and worry. Most of them have been around far be­fore I was born, and most will still be en­dur­ing arc­tic blasts and sum­mer swel­ters long after I’m gone. There is no fear amongst them. No pon­der­ing about harsh win­ters past. No anx­i­ety about future droughts. They just are. They are present. They are teach­ers.

My fa­ther used an ex­pres­sion when I was a teenager that I sim­ply tossed into the wood chip­per (that’s where most help­ful parental ad­vice goes to die when you’re full of hor­mones and think you know ev­ery­thing.) He would say, “Don’t let stuff rent any space in your head son.” It took me years to re­al­ize the pure ge­nius of this state­ment. When I’m out in the for­est, it’s as though the trees are con­tin­u­ally say­ing, “Lis­ten to your fa­ther, stupid.”

I don’t go into the for­est to get away from the world. I go into the for­est so that I can re­mem­ber how to re­ally live in the world. If my mind is con­tin­u­ally rent­ing space to neg­a­tive thoughts about the past and fear of what will hap­pen in the future, then I cease to be present right now! It’s re­mark­able and tragic what you miss when your thoughts keep you liv­ing in a past you can’t change and a future you can’t con­trol. Sim­ply put…you miss life!

They say you preach best what you need to learn most. I have been trans­form­ing back­yards for over 20 years in order to draw peo­ple into the ther­apy of the out­doors in a world that’s gone crazy. I can only hope I’ve made a dent, but I can’t help but wish that I could bring the for­est to each back­yard. The trees are far better teach­ers than I am, and could truly care less what per­son­al­ity pro­file they fall un­der.

PAUL LAFRANCE HGTV STAR

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