It’s been raining for the past two days and I love it. Walking outside on days like this just make me feel alive – the cold wind blowing against my face, filling up my lungs and playing with my hair, the refreshing rain falling onto my skin and waking up my pores, the invigorating smell of the wet earth covered with yellow leaves that have started to decay. I love watching the trees shake their dark limbs and sway their heads this way and that under a sky blanketed with grey clouds. The clouds are on the move, quickly passing against one another, rushing like airplanes to their destinations.
I watch all this motion filled to the brim with awe. Nature has her own mind, her own purpose – she doesn’t pay any notice to what is going on in our own world just as she pays no notice to the goings on of the lives of ants. She flows in her own cycles – water, carbon, nitrogen, rock, etc. We can only observe and live in her flow.
These are self-evident facts of course – after all, as living organisms on this earth we are subject to the rules which govern Earth. Gravity holds us down, water enables our cells to live, our DNA determines what kind of an organism we are, and so on. However, I think that sometimes we forget this. Going on with our busy days and busy lives caught up talking about human events (politics, gossip, news, etc.) I think we sometimes forget the natural world. We forget that we are just as much a part of nature as a rock or an insect. And while it makes sense while this is the case – our human lives are filled with various problems and goals that demand our attention – I think it’s important, now and then, to step back and truly see the world that we live in.
I think this is important for many reasons, but for me, personally, the best reason is how this change of perspective fills me with a sense of awe and peace. It makes me see what an amazing world we live in – how there are so many diverse life forms, from plants that grow to tower over us to animals that fly and swim and leap, the various colors, textures, shapes that these living things possess. This is especially poignant when you compare our earth to the other planets in our solar system, how they are dead and rocky and although their landscapes may have some color, it can not be compared to vivid rainbow colors of a garden or a rain forest or a mantis shrimp. Our earth is crawling with life forms and it is estimated most of these are still unknown, that we aren’t even close to understanding the true variety of life that is on earth.
Walking outside and observing even a small portion of this nature also fills me with peace because I realize that whatever personal problems I may be experiencing, anything I may be struggling with, that is not all this world consists of. This may sound a little silly, but if you’ve ever been in a position where you’re dealing with something stressful and upsetting, thinking about it over and over and over, trying to figure out what to do and at the same time quell the anxious commentary of your mind, it can be hard to pull yourself out of your mind and calm down. Whenever I go for a walk when I’m feeling this way, physically moving through a space where I can see other life forms living out their lives, reminds me that within the context of the world, my problems aren’t that big or important. They are simply a version of a struggle that all organisms experience. I say all organisms and not all humans because animals have their own problems that actually are usually more important than mine. For instance, I am currently struggling to decide what career I want to have in the future, while other animals, especially those living in areas where their habitats are threatened, are struggling just to survive.
Walking outside, thinking about the complexity of each organism that I see and taking in all the movements and colors that are present in the ordinary scene before my eyes fills me with profound feelings of wonder and a desire to learn more about the outside world. I think about the fact that all the towering trees I see were once small little seeds, and how it has taken years and years for them to grow and reach such heights. I think about all the insects that are scurrying on and in the ground, facilitating the richness of the soil, pollination of flowers, and other important services. I wonder about how many different kinds of animals actually live in the woods, well aware that I only see the most obvious ones like the birds and squirrels – where are the raccoons, skunks, rabbits, sleeping/hiding? What other animals are out there?
I hope that you too take some time every now and then to go on a walk at whatever nature area is close to where you live and wonder about similar such things – it definitely makes life a lot more interesting. 🙂