An ode to Mother Nature

 

Last updated 5/7/2024 at 10:02am



I am sitting at my office peering at the Three Sisters peeking through the trees surrounded by soft blankets of blushed pink and wisps of orange cream sunsetting on their peaks.

I have a lot of charting to do, but tonight feels ripe for a little procrastination. I would rather stare at the mountains. I find myself pondering at how our natural world, with its beauty, renewal, and resilience continually provides an endurable response to the ugliness and suffering our world encounters.

I am lucky to have a lot of passion for my day job, and, simultaneously, also have whims to live out an echo of Thoreau or Muir, find a cabin in the wilderness, dwell in philosophy and conservation, and write poetry. Last time I checked, this doesn’t quite pay the bills.

Regardless, my well of gratitude for the gifts and lessons of Mother Earth runs deep. I have come to believe that wholeness and healing can only be accomplished as we consciously acknowledge our own footprint and that we do not see ourselves apart from nature, but of it.

Stewardship

The connections between how we care for ourselves and how we care for our surrounding environment are rich. Stewardship of our natural world is also integral to our emotional stewardship. As we embark on a path of healing, it takes a dose of humility as we recognize the obstacles of our ego. We honor the natural world most when we abandon ego and take ownership for what we both take and give to the greater ecosystem.

Letting go

Nature has a unique way of teaching us the necessity of letting go. As summer retreats, followed by falling amber and burgundy from the trees, we are met with the slowdown of winter. Mother Earth gets its beauty sleep as it prepares for the renewal of spring. We are reminded that, similarly, our own growth and evolution is not often possible without the shedding of aging attitudes and beliefs unlikely to serve us. It is life’s impermanence that allows for transformation.

Chasing awe

In a world rich with vicarious and personal traumas reinforced by real-time access to tragedy and suffering on our social media feeds and news outlets, many of us have developed a protective response of disconnect and detachment. This response can minimize palpable feelings of fear and despair, but it can also minimize joy, passion, and excitement. We go through the motions, but life can feel like it’s lost its allure.

Nature has a unique way of resuscitating our emotional heartbeat by providing moments of sheer awe that restore our curiosity and drive for continued discovery. I think of when I first stood at the foot of Mt. Rainier, or when I have sat still breathing in sage blossoms surrounded by wild mustangs, or when I first set sight on a giraffe in Africa and proceeded to break a few rules jumping off the tour bus running after it. I just wanted to get closer...the bus driver and fellow passengers were not amused.

Embracing discomfort

Emotional wellness is not about being comfortable. Modern day conveniences allow some of us to afford near consistent environmental comforts with minimal effort. Thermostats, running water, food that never runs out, plumbing, and a warm place to sleep are not to be taken for granted. And yet, if we are always comfortable, we minimize opportunity for growth and self-trust. Stress is inevitable and nature allows us boundless opportunities to widen our window of tolerance and resilience. After all, it was not so long ago that we didn’t have a choice. In our culture of accommodation, we must be careful not to discount the value of productive discomfort.

So, as they say, watch more sunsets and less Netflix. Take a walk in the woods. Find a view. Plant a tree. Forage. Wander. Find moments to be still and remember your roots.

 

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