We live in an age where it is culturally acceptable to very rarely consider the outdoors. Cold? There’s probably an app for that. Bored? There’s definitely an app for that. We can step from our homes to our cars to our offices without having to stand bare under the sky. We can search our multi-sized electronic devices for all sorts of wonderment. And that is cool. I’m not anti-technology. I’ve just begun to notice something about us as humans.
We are losing our passion. Many of us don’t even know why we do what we do. Many of us are miserable in our jobs, in our lives, in our circumstances. If we don’t like our lives we can escape to a fantastical realm of movies and games and online relationships. As Homer Simpson so wisely put it, “Turn something on, I’m starting to think!” It begs the question, what – are – we – doing?
And then there is Nature Connection, the simple act of spending time in the natural world and paying attention. It is taking the time to remember that, as of now at least, we are dependent on this earth that we call home. And there are natural laws that apply to this place. Such as, if you throw shit in the water, it will get dirty. And if you spray chemicals on your food you will get sick. And if you fill your mind with junk you will develop some kind of mental illness. You know, those kinds of things.
I remember when I first began my nature connection journey. I began to pay attention to the trees, the plants, and the creatures of Columbus, OH. I didn’t know until I started noticing that the song of the Mourning Dove could make me feel as strongly as my favorite song. Or that there were owls that lived down the street from me in a small section of woods in a neighborhood full of houses. Or that making pancakes with Dandelion flowers in them made me feel like a wild animal.
What astounded me most was that there seemed to be this whole secret reality underneath of my own that nature lived in. Deer and fox and coyote ran around the streets and parks of Columbus, living their lives, all without my knowledge. Foraging, hunting, giving birth, sleeping, and shitting, just like humans.
This also applied to the trees and plants. Suddenly, as I learned, my world became richer. I had more friends. And I began to develop a new inner sense. Something deeper and quieter and more profound than my ever creative and obsessive mind. And that new stillness brought me out of my own ass and back into the flow of the world. As my yoga teacher Ana Forrest says, “Your reality is actually far more interesting than your fantasy.”
I have found this to be true. And nature is my way of getting to that place. I feel like nature helps me to stand alongside my upbringing, beside my culture and look at it with a little more objectivity and perspective. And it helps me ask the tough questions that most people don’t want to think about. And it helps me listen. And wait. And dream.
It’s also given me more perspective on how to deal with life. Not only can I look at things through the lenses of my human friends, but also through the lens of Raven or Sycamore or a small stream in Whetstone park. These beings and places teach me. And I’m not necessarily talking about some kind of woo woo lesson here. I mean real shit. Like, Ravens hunt to eat, they hunt to live. They cache food for later munching and they have a diverse and intricate communication system. That’s real natural history that influences my world and gives me ideas for my life. Does this make sense?
Take the time to do something simple. Feel the sun on your face, warming you. Listen to the sound of a bird singing it’s heart out. Smell a plant from your garden. Watch the clouds moving across the sky. Taste the mint leaf. Use your senses. Explore your world. Get out of your own ass every now and again or as much as possible. I’m telling you, the world is so much more interesting than your own posterior.
PS The cool thing about nature connection… it’s free!