It is so easy to become immersed in all the human demands of living that we miss the most startling “other” life surrounding us.
We get caught up in hurrying from here to there, and with an overabundance of inside time in our lives.
Inside museums instead of outside museums where the most extraordinary other type of art awaits us.
Inside concert halls rather than outside in the sounds of silence or the sounds of birds with their many tones, seeing them fly and soar to their own music.
Nature offers a symphony, even if at times it sounds more like a Philip Glass composition rather than Rachmaninoff.
For the first time ever, during the past year, I heard a wedge of swans singing as they flew. It absolutely took my breath away, for it was such a different sound than geese flying. I did not know until that experience that swans fly in a wedge and have the most beautiful voices.
It’s not that the inside places do not hold exceptional exhibits, music and connections. They do. Ironically, at times, an exhibit we enjoy is of exquisite works of nature, painted or photographed by others, framed and hung inside.
Or hearing a symphony orchestra play Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” but missing the palpable observation of the seasons as we pass through them. What if, coming up, we listen to the fall section while walking out in the nature of fall? Did Vivaldi capture what we feel? Would we write the symphony differently?
One of the beautiful outcomes of the past couple of years when I could not be in many indoor places is that I walked and walked and walked.
I also gave my car exercise, taking drives going nowhere, meandering back roads to drink in the beauty of the landscape.
Nature became a much closer friend once again, the same as when I was a child and relished the 10 acres on which my family lived, outdoor time almost daily and in all seasons.
There were small and big trees to climb, hanging vines for swinging while hoping they did not break, stone walls on which to balance, hills that took me to the view of the mountains across the river, boulders that became favorite sitting spots and the clear brook not far away.
I want to keep this close friend, one always ready to do things with me, always waiting.
The song “I Talk to the Trees” from “Paint Your Wagon” just popped into my head but it’s about the trees not listening. Ah, that song is mistaken. I think they do listen.
When I walk among them, when I stand surrounded by them, even when I look at the border of them below me at the foot of the front lawn, I feel their distinct company.
When various specific trees in my life have gone away, a sense of deep loss is left in their soil space.
Trees at the foot of the lawn make me think of how we are so quick to compare human body shapes and buy into all the advertising of what it means to look “right.” Yet, it is the differences in the row of trees that attracts me.
There’s one with a flat top like the 1950s crew cuts and there are a couple that look like they spiky paste. Some are wearing ground length clothing and others are into the short look even with chunky trunks.
A few have branches that invite climbing, or at least the consideration of it, while unreachable branches of others signal the opposite.
Unless taken over by disease or drought, they keep growing. Their growth is so imperceptible that we miss it.
When I think I am not growing, I am reminded by the trees that growth is sometimes just that, imperceptible.
Those who spend their lives observing so much more about trees than I ever have or will, have brought into my awareness what is unseen but true. We now understand that trees have social networks, for example, and take care of each other. They are written about as the hidden life of trees, the songs of trees, the wisdom of trees and more.
The world of nature is becoming more and more understood. Just this morning, a friend told me about the book, “The Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake. 450 pages about fungi alone. Four hundred and fifty pages. About fungi.
And then there are the mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, fields and all the flowers and plants that grow.
What do we find in their company?
What parts of nature feel in most alignment with who we are? Or perhaps ask that the other way around. Where in nature do I feel most aligned with who I am?
How does nature feed our souls and ease our hearts and minds?
How does it bring respite and relief?
What do I not know of nature that might well change my life?
If you could live in one particular environment of nature, what would it be? Do you know it well enough to know that you would like to settle there?
This week I want to bask in the delight and presence of nature, wherever I am, even if in the presence of the only flower that shoots up through the sidewalk crack or pokes out through the slats of a picket fence. The ones that do that always make me smile, as if they are saying, “Don’t be afraid to take a different path!”
I want to honor all the ways, known and unknown, that nature provides life.
I want to, perhaps most of all, be filled anew with wonder and joy in its presence, ever grateful.
I want to drink deeply and discover what more it has to say to me, to teach me, to bring into my awareness new perspectives.
I started writing this at my desk but ended up writing under the trees instead of looking out the window at them.
Be outside and be in being in the presence of all that is waiting. Put everything else away and simply be in it, with it, fully, observing where it takes you.
That is my invitation to myself this week. It is also my invitation to you.
Just as every well fills each person uniquely, so too does nature, dipping and dipping again into the observation of it and what it is waiting to share with us.