Essays

Metro Sling: From City to Nature

Words By Sheila Lam

Being in the city is exhilarating. You cross pathways with strangers each day leading to interactions that you could never anticipate. But when you begin to move away from that, into a space that’s a little more open, a little more still, there comes a moment when the breath you take eases and deepens. It’s the exhalation of a long breath you’ve been holding in without even knowing it.

 

Maybe you’ve experienced it too. That pulsating sensation from being in the city too long. Our bodies hum with the electric buzz that moves through the streets, around lamp posts, and the lights at intersections. It can fuel our every day, getting us up and out to conquer the city but sometimes we need to step away from it all, to find moments of silence and respite. As a city dweller, it’s easy to get swept up in the inertia of the place, busying ourselves from point a to point b, c, and d. We sometimes forget that getting out of the swell is vital to ground ourselves back into the world we live in.

When we leave for the day we grab our essentials: phone, wallet, keys. Embellishments sometimes factor in: a pair of sunglasses, headphones, and these days inevitably some hand sanitiser. Throw it all in our Metro Sling and we're out the door. Retreating out of the city sometimes feels like it would be a fuss but it doesn’t have to be. Having just what you would downtown surprisingly offers all that you require out of town too. I often take day trips from London to explore other places in the southeast region of England. To historic towns with a lush green country like Cambridge and Bath or the seaside in Hastings and Margate; each only a few hours on the train and none requiring much more than I would carry with me from south London to east.

The actual act of leaving the city is a particular one but something everyone should experience as often as they can. Even if it’s not far or for long, it does something for your spirit. Like a hug releasing tension in your nervous system. Being in the city is exhilarating. Like the Metro Sling, you cross bodies with strangers each day leading to interactions that you could never anticipate. But when you begin to move away from that, into a space that’s a little more open, a little more still, there comes a moment when the breath you take eases and deepens. It’s the exhalation of a long breath you’ve been holding in without even knowing it. That's when your body realises a much-needed break is coming and when your senses begin to heighten.

Being in a new environment – especially a little slice of nature – calls your attention to things that you may not have otherwise noticed. Suddenly, the sound of the wind soughing among the leaves sings a bit louder. The feeling of pebbles tumbling under your foot as you traipse across them on the shore alleviates a bit of stiffness in your step. Even something as simple as being seated on a blanket with a little amuse-gueule tastes a bit sweeter out in the wild. This requires little more than what's in a Metro Sling. No heavy trekking bag or hiking sticks, just you and your essentials out on a mini-adventure. But all of it grounding your energy for a return to city life.

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