We forget sometimes the everyday power and ordinary wonder of immersing ourselves in the natural world. It’s a possibility, an opportunity, that is nearly always available to us. Authentic experiences of nature don’t require an epic excursion into the wilderness for days on end, into apparently pristine surroundings where all evidence of human incursion has been elided. The true magic is that, no matter how much urban we try to impose on the natural landscape, there is still wild all around us.
Take ten minutes, go outside, and walk.
Go now – I’ll wait.
As you begin to walk, your thoughts are louder than the landscape around you. The activities, the concerns, the virtual geography occupying your mind has such a firm grasp on your awareness that you seem to be simply traveling past, rather than within, your surroundings. But gradually, the sense-able world (the ‘real’ world) nudges your perception.
You start to savour the feeling of groundedness as your feet touch the earth – not smooth sidewalks, grocery store aisles, or office corridors, but the uneven, textured, interrupted surface of the ground itself. Roots protrude, rocks get in the way, branches have fallen across paths, vines and leaves blur the cleared edges. These places are changeable, changing, evolving – organic, in the true sense of the word.
Your mind quiets, and you begin to notice the myriad occupants of the space around you: the tiny birds delicately picking microscopic insects from bark crevices, slugs leaving meandering iridescent trails outlining their daily trek, new green shoots unfurling in the slanting afternoon sun, one intrepid sprout easing its way through an almost imperceptible rock crevice. A movement, caught in the corner of your eye, disappearing as you turn to face it head-on. Leaves descending in a graceful swirl toward the ground, making momentarily visible the wind’s current. The shimmering strands of a spider’s web strung across a small clearing where, mere hours before, a young rabbit browsed on the dew-covered grass. As you witness these inhabitants encountering and interacting with others – moving through, growing around, flowing over – the rhythm of the earth itself suddenly, if only momentarily, becomes audible.
Joy rushes through you, pure sensation, and you smile.
Your breath comes easy.
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