Out Of Office AutoReply: I’m In Nature

Thanks for your email. I took the morning/afternoon/day off to ride my bike, or go rock climbing, or go for a jog in the park nearest to my home, or read a book while sitting next to a lake or stream, or something like that in nature, which is the stuff you see in between or outside of the urban areas where we live and work. It is often green and/or brown, or other such earth tones. I go there sometimes to, as someone once put it, “take my soul to the laundromat.” I inhale, I exhale, I let my shoulders down a little bit, and relax my facial muscles, especially my forehead, which I realize I tend to crinkle too much when I’m anxious about something.

I will not be responding to your email until I return from nature. I did not take my computer into nature because there is no wifi there, and I probably didn’t take my phone with me either, and if I did, it’s in Airplane Mode, or as I call it, “This Phone Is Now Only A Camera And Music Player” mode.

In addition to not answering your email for a few hours, here’s some other stuff I will not be doing:

  • Checking Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for interactions with other human beings in hopes to verify in some small way that I still exist and/or matter
  • Checking Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for things that might entertain me for two seconds to five minutes while I procrastinate things on my To-Do List
  • Remembering that I have something called a To-Do List
  • Checking my email every five minutes so I don’t have to focus on the work I should be doing
  • Feeling my cortisol levels increase when my phone vibrates to alert me that someone on planet Earth has interacted with me on some platform or is trying to reach me via electronic means
  • Communicating with anyone who is not speaking to me face-to-face
  • All the other things that I typically deem important but I realize are kind of bullshit once I get outside my personal Bubble of Busy

I will get back to these things in a few hours, once I am finished with my Nature Time, which I believe is essential to physical and mental well-being. If, while awaiting my response to your email, you’d like to read about some studies that validate this belief, here’s a good one. And another one.

If you are contacting me for an urgent matter that you believe requires immediate attention, please take a deep breath and consider your definition of the word “urgent” and the phrase “requires immediate attention.” Perhaps you, or you and Denise, or you and Dave, or whoever, can figure out a solution to this urgent matter before I return to email. In the event that you cannot devise a solution, perhaps you can do something else for a few hours and patiently await for my return to electronic communication.

In the event that waiting a few hours for an email response from me becomes too much to bear, I humbly suggest you locate the nearest park and walk there for a few minutes, leaving your phone at your desk and instead concentrating on looking at trees and birds and clouds.

Thank you,

Brendan Leonard

More stories like this in my new book, Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems, out now.

9 replies on “Out Of Office AutoReply: I’m In Nature

  • doug moore

    I left this one once:

    “Hey, you found me. Welcome to Cottonwood Lakes. As you can tell, I won’t be able to answer your message. But if you really need to contact me, my camp is just past the 2nd lake on the left. Can’t miss it. And bring some extra water and a windbreaker. You’ll need it.”

    It got a lot of attention at the office. Including one from the CEO: “Sounds nice.”

    Three cheers for using your time off to get back to nature.

  • David Stucker

    Awesome stuff. I just moved to Durango, CO, for this very reason. Simplifying life, and breathing more. The forehead is still a problem, as my boss points out. I’m bummed I missed your book signing here the other day. Saw the info a couple of days too late!

  • Mary

    The shame I feel at having read this post after checking my email 4 times in 15 minutes and finally deciding a new semi-rad post is worth procrastinating work for is almost too embarrassing to share in this comment section. Almost.

  • kj

    I just put together my auto responder message during my vacation. Leaving tomorrow for a week in the Sierra and hoping to smooth out the forehead. Oh, and I linked this blog post for my coworkers who might think that whatever question they need to answer is that important. 🙂

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