lose my mind, find my soul

11:28 AM

I don't consider myself an "outdoorsy" person per se. I don't kayak or hike regularly. I don't own a Patagonia jacket. But these last few months the "outdoors" have been my saving grace. When I feel unmoored, when I feel the anxiety welling up inside threatening to erupt, when I'm just blue or sad the best thing I've learned to do is get outside. To root my feet to the wet earth, to feel the wind through my hair and let the sounds wind through my ears.
Nature never disappoints. Nature is always free and nature is - everywhere. I've often heard from people "you live in such beautiful places!" And my thought when I hear that always is - we all do! In every place we've ever lived from California to now the Eastern Shore we've always found a wealth of nature to discover. We've never been daunted by a long drive or unpredictable weather. We've learned that we need little more than a good water bottle, backpack, bug spray and a first aid kit.
You just show up and let nature show off what's she's got for you that day. All she asks in return is that you keep your ears and eyes open.
And that's the most powerful thing about being in nature - you can't "get" anything if you're not willing to submit to her completely. If your attention isn't completely and entirely given to the sights, smells and sounds you will miss... well, often, everything. Without you eyes peeled to the sky and the ground you will miss a majestic hawk circling overhead or a rabbit playing by a puddle at your feet. Without your hearing attuned to your surroundings you will miss the rustle in the bushes that reveals itself to be a fox. Without your mind given over to the wild you will return home as empty as you came.
Thank goodness most state parks lack any sort of signal to this day. It is no place for technology or social media. Thank goodness the best views must be traveled to on foot and not by car. And thank goodness there is still so much left to explore. Every time we go I am humbled and reminded of the fact that we share this planet with so many other creatures that delight and confound if only we are willing to notice them.
For far too long we allowed our idea of entertainment to be limited to eating out, tv or shopping. And we kept wondering why our souls felt so impoverished. Why our health was plummeting. Why we felt disconnected and lost. We forgot the art of the "joy of work." The good exhaustion that comes from a challenging walk. The worn feeling in your bones after working all day baking, cooking and preparing food for your family. For years we would sit in bed at night and eat food delivered to our front door, watch tv until we fell asleep and repeat the same cycle the next day. And with each passing year we felt worse and worse. And somehow more tired. For all of the outsourcing left us more weary than the week before. We finally realized something had to change.
There is such beauty and purity in working with your hands. We don't have to be digging coal mines in order to leave our bodies buzzing from energy spent at the end of the day. A hand-made loaf of bread. A roast chicken from scratch. A three layer cake. We don't have to run a mile in order to reap the benefits of some endorphins. A brisk walk through the park. A game of tag with your kids in the backyard. And we certainly don't have to travel the world to stand and marvel at the beauty of our earth. Stop and watch a bee sneak pollen from a summer flower. Listen to the bird songs just outside your window in the morning. Watch a sunset. No, really watch. Don't take out your phone. Don't just glance. Stop what you're doing and let is wash over you. Let it astound you. Watch it until it disappears. I've stood and been moved by many a sunset through my kitchen window while a pile of dirty dishes await my hands in the sink below.
It's the only thing I've found that doesn't drain me. Doesn't fill me with even the tiniest bit of anxiety. Instead nature has been what has filled my cup time and time again. What has grounded me and reminded me of just how small I am and yet how connected I am to every living thing.

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul” 

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