Most of us live in cities or suburbs, detached from nature with the exception of forest preserves and parks that are dotted within our radius. With spring in the air, and summer approaching, more and more people are venturing out of their homes to enjoy the lovely weather. I am one of those people. Even though I would face the harsh Illinois winter weather to explore the forest preserve near my house, I must say it is easier to do now that it isn’t a balmy 20 degrees with six inches of snow on the ground.
I love exploring the forests and being out in nature. Growing up, my family vacations consisted of camping trips to Wisconsin or Missouri. My backyard was my playground. Climbing trees and catching frogs in the marsh behind my house were my pastimes (okay, I still will do that). While I have strong connections to growing up surrounded by nature, for a while, I lost touch with the earth. I would spend my days inside binge watching Netflix episodes and staring at a computer screen. Needless to say, it was an unhappy time for me. I felt lost and detached from the world around me. I was alive, but I wasn’t living.
Nature has been a great asset for my mental health. When I am out in nature, my senses are heightened and I feel alive and living in the moment. My thoughts about the past and future cease, and I just enjoy the here and now. I am aware of the terrain beneath my feet, the sounds of the birds within the trees, and the smells of the spring flowers budding. Every breath is a new discovery to behold. There is always something new to see and I am hardly bored when I am surrounded by the plants and wildlife.
Nature also reminds me that we as a planet are all connected. In today’s society we are so wrapped up in our own minds, rarely do we stop and think about this concept of “oneness”. What we say and do has deeper affects than most of us realize. Being in nature, I see coexistence. The oak tree that shades the forest floor, gives us oxygen, and provides a home to the birds and critters. Or that creek that houses fresh water and harbors life under it’s surface. Everything has a purpose. This idea I take back into the man-made world. I become aware that it is not just me on this beautiful planet. Earth houses so much life, and we all call this place our home. Nature reminds me to not only think of others and how our lives are interconnected, but to think of the living creatures that don’t have a voice, and how our actions affect their lives as well.
I will leave you with a poem that I wrote, capturing my love of nature. I encourage you to get outside today and feel this wonderful experience for yourself!!!