What Is It About Nature That Draws Us In?
Her hair sits in light tendrils, thick and wild. It’s covering her exhausted mind; wrapping her sub-conscious in its warm embrace, and giving comfort and solace to her thoughts.
A chorus of birds chant their unique songs, all strung together to create a deep crescendo.
A blue bird begins his solo with a quieter voice, but his song is not like the others.
Grass covers the garden, lumpy and bumpy as a down comforter, warming the soil beneath it.
The sun hits the biggest tree in the garden, a spotlight of sorts, yet he doesn’t need it. He’s the emperor of this jungle, a barometer for the time of year, and the life force of this diverse nation. Other trees stand in the distance, mere supporting actors in his debut play, “The Changing of the Seasons.”
The fish perform their dance, flinging their tails in every direction. They send rippling waves across the stage, gliding effortlessly back and forth, smooth and graceful. They’ve found their true calling.
The wind picks up, the great invisible monster, moving everything to-and-fro. Yet, the tree, great protector of the weak, pushes back hard. The music gets louder and louder. They dance in a twist of tangled limbs, a whirlpool of invisible force.
The wind finally gives up, retreating back off the stage. Unwelcome, and with one final, foreboding swish, it disappears for good.
It’s silent once again.
The birds sing their chorus, and the fish take their bow with a flourish and a wave. The great king of the garden stands tall and proud among his disciples, protector of his territory.
Her soft ringlets fall down her shoulders in a calm, dignified manner.
The Changing Of The Seasons
One of my greatest pleasures in life is living in a place with seasons, and an even greater enjoyment is that first gasp of crisp fall air. It always takes me back to childhood. Lugging home giant Harry Potter books and movies from the local library while I stepped on every crunchy leaf. I even had an old trunk with a handle that my dad bought filled with costume jewelry at an auction that summer. I would pack it for going to Hogwarts, slide in a Harry Potter movie on VHS, and ride an imaginary train.
At night, I would lay out my outfit for school, the smell of new denim and number 2 pencils permeating the air, heavy with anticipation about the homecoming football game and a new school year.
Fall is that time of year when things settle down, becoming softer, warmer. It gets dark earlier, Yankee Candles fill desks and windows, pumpkins make their grand entrance, forest walking becomes comfortable, romantic. The scent in the air is like taking huge gulps of spring water after climbing a steep hill; like being renewed.
What Is It About Nature?
What is it about nature that continues to draw us in? Is it the constant changes, reminding us of memories long gone or the ever present future looming before us?
Is it the idea of being at one with the earth? Making us time and time again re-visit questions of our own mortality; where we’ve come from and where we’re going?
Is it the feeling of true freedom that comes from looking at a vast sky full of various weather patterns or stars so close you could touch them yet so far away, impossible to visit?
Is it the trees? Tall and proud, having taken decades to achieve the height of their fame. Their leaves waving to passersby in the wind, changing with the seasons, letting go of the past in a flash of brilliant color, confident they will soon be re-born.
Is it the animals who have formed a symbiotic relationship with the water, the dirt, the stones? Never fretting as humans do about who has the biggest nest, cave or hole in the ground, content to eat what the earth provides.
I believe it’s our curiosity about the inner workings of all of this. The way the grass seems to just grow without trying, or how the flowers seem to bloom as if by a miracle. The way our hearts just beat without our needing to think about it, and the fragility with which they can just stop.
To be in nature is to be connected to our source; that place where we come from. No matter our religion, or what we believe, we are all born from the same place and we all go there when we die.
Being in nature makes us feel one step closer to figuring out the questions that we keep hidden in a corner of our hearts. Where do we come from? Where are we going? Why?
The earth gives us a respite from worrying about the unknown, from questioning a future we cannot comprehend. Being outside brings peace to the heart of the one species aware of its own mortality.
How can you better enjoy the benefits of nature?
Spend more time outside.
No, really, that’s my only tip.
Sometimes the best answer is the most simple. You don’t need to plan it, write it in your dayplanner, or put it in your phone calendar.
It doesn’t require writing anything down on paper, answering tough questions, or going to therapy to talk about the impact your parents had on your childhood psyche.
You don’t even have to put on shoes, or hiking gear, or buy walking sticks. Just step out your door for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 1 hour.
Take a walk.
Get a snack. Lay out a blanket. Pack a fancy picnic basket. Bring a book. Bring a friend, imaginary or real.
Sit on a park bench.
Just get away from the chatter of the internet and the 4 walls that coop you up like a caged parrot.
Getting outside, being in nature, is where you’ll find every answer you’ve been searching for.