If 2020 has confirmed the truth of one thing for me, it’s the healing power of the natural world.
I have never felt more attuned to the vibrant energy of the river, the quiet presence of the trees, the beauty of the changing seasons and the comforting cycles of the moon than I have been this year.
I have the pandemic to thank for this intensified awareness, a silver lining if ever there was one.
And I have also noticed that there are certain recurring circumstances when a walk in the forest, by the river or through the fields is often the best and sometimes the only solution that works: that is when I’m stuck, when I’m bored, when I’m tired.
- When I am suffering from writer’s block, which right now can go on for days (OK…weeks), or I am working on something that really requires focus and I just can’t get past a certain point with it…I move. Sometimes a stretch and throwing the ball for the dog in the yard is enough. But more often what I really need is a walk by the river to clear my mind and be in my body.
To simply take my problem into the peace of nature.
Whether on a walk among the trees, a few minutes sitting on a riverbank, moving quietly under the moon and stars…always, it just comes…the free flow of ideas, the first sentence, the topic, the missing piece to the project.
I’m telling you the answers and the inspiration are out there in the woods. We just have to be willing to go out there.
- Last week I spoke with my neighbor and asked him how he was doing and he said this: “To be honest, Shona…I’m bored.” I so appreciated his honesty because at this stage in the pandemic game we can probably all admit to being a little bored.And then it occurred to me that when I am feeling bored, out of sheer desperation sometimes, I get out of my house and head to the park or the woods. And to make it different, I don’t stride across the forest floor. Instead I stop to watch birds, I take my camera, I let myself pause and notice the busy squirrels, the chickadees, the last of the summer flowers.
I become immersed in the present moment, I allow the outside world to enchant me, and my boredom is forgotten.
- I have known for a long time that if I am feeling fatigued, I will feel better and more energized after some exercise. And this has never been more true than now. Because frankly, I am fatigued.I am certainly tired of the news, the masks, the politics, and my own four walls.Weeks can go by and there are no Netflix shows left that I want to watch, no books that call to me, no project that moves me.For all that I am grateful to be healthy and safe and living with my family in Canada, I am also sometimes antsy and grumpy and tired of the marathon that 2020 has become.
And this my friends, this is exactly when I most need to walk in the forest.
It is restorative.
When I am depleted, it fills me up with energy, with calm, and with love for life again.
So in essence, what I am really suggesting here – in all of these situations – is that you allow yourself to be enchanted by nature.
A walk in the woods or on the shore or through the fields is never the wrong answer.
And with all that is happening with our world on fire, it is past time we went outside, listened to the river, touched the bark of the trees, inhaled the smell of cedar in the fall and root ourselves in the knowledge that we are part of her and part of a greater cycle.
We belong outside, we belong to the earth.
In seeking her magic and healing energy we will find our way through, and our way home.