HGTV’S PAUL LAFRANCE
Recharge with nature
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.