For me, there is nowhere better than being out in nature. It doesn’t matter the scene: it might be a cool green woodland, a hot desert wash, a walk by the ocean, or following a stream as far as its beginning. All that matters is I’m in a place where I can turn my brain off and simply exist.
I am naturally a quiet person. I prefer quietude to any other state. In it, I am able to pay attention to minute details I would otherwise miss if my brain was buzzing and busy.
I sometimes wonder if I am this way because I was born this way. Or is it because as a girl I frequently played by myself and got used to hearing only the sounds in my head? I grew up with three brothers and, though, sometimes I joined in on their fun, mostly it was too rambunctious for me. Most likely, it’s a bit of both. Life usually works that way: we become a mixed up mess of who we always were and who life makes us into.
I wonder, too, if everyone is as moved by nature as I am. I feel a quiet joy out walking in the woods. It’s not easy to describe, except to say that the whole core of my being awakens and fills with an almost excited feeling. Near to joy? Near to excitement? Yes, but on a subtle level. It feels, inside, like the faint rustling of leaves on a breezy day, or the babbling of water in a stream, or the quiet sliding back of saltwater after a wave has crashed. All barely noticeable when my attention is captured elsewhere, but they are powerful when my focus is trained directly at them. This is how I feel in nature. I have that near-to-joy feeling in my center and if I pay attention it becomes this giant overflow.
I lived in Manhattan for a year, once upon a time. It was a wonderful experience. I took the bus across town to work every day – I read more that year than I ever did before and have since. The excitement there is like nothing else. There is diversity and variety, creativity, highs and lows and I’m so glad I experienced life there for a time. Ultimately, though, it was not for me. The subtle scents and sounds of nature are lost in the city. Central Park, as big as it is, still has underlying city rumblings. Not to mention no matter what direction you turn, there is always a skyscraper poking up from behind the trees.
Lesson learned? That’s probably one of life’s easiest lessons for me: I’m no good if I can’t get out in nature often enough. Which is hard in the middle of the hot, desert summer. But I go when I can, and when I do, I am refresh and enlivened. My batteries are filled and I’m ready to go take on life in all its glorious complications.