Monday, 23 January 2012

a love affair with nature

I have been having a love affair with nature for as long as I can remember. In our family, I was the one who jumped at every chance to get out and wander through the forests that surrounded our house. I loved finding a path through the woods that I'd never encountered, and always imagined/wished that I was the first person who'd ever stepped foot along that way. It would instantly bring to mind what it must have been like to be explorers in this beautiful country, centuries ago, to truly tread where very few humans had been before.

When feeling the overwhelming angst of being a young teen in a small town, or when feeling smothered by the "horror" of having a loving, supportive family, I would take off out the door, summer or winter, and run to the forest, wandering, stopping every so often to listen to the quietness around me, occasionally sitting on a fallen log to see what birds or wildlife would appear. Very quickly, I would begin to feel quiet inside again.

When I first left my rural home for university and found myself in the middle of the city of Windsor, I felt a very physical yearning for the trees and rocks and fields and rivers of home. I couldn't wait for school holidays, for that moment when I would drive into my region and see the hills and forests and lakes and wide open spaces. It was an actual physical ache, when I was away from that part of my life; I felt cut-off, disconnected when I was in the middle of the city.

As an adult, when I'd feel overwhelmed with a too-busy work schedule, or overstimulated by an overactive social life, I'd take off into a forest on my own, wandering with no plan, and would feel the urge to find a sturdy tree and wrap my arms around it and just rest there. And within minutes, I would begin to feel stillness.

After a very painful, heart-breaking breakup years ago, I found myself wandering down to a beach in the middle of March, watching the huge waves crash against the rocks along the shore, and felt such a connection with the water, broiling, angry, loud, messy, crashing, expressing, raging. It brought such comfort to me, such peace, such a sense of connection. Like I had found a comrade, a kindred spirit in the waves.

And in all these instances,  there is always a stillness in my heart and mind, within about 2 minutes of connecting with nature. All my anxiety, all my concerns about shoulds and coulds and what-ifs fade away, immediately. My mind and heart become quiet, and then I begin to "hear" lessons coming to mind, from all I see around me. Simple things.

Yesterday I went for a walk near my home in Ottawa, and saw this rushing water. It was a section of water coming out from under some ice, heading toward a power dam. Where the water came out from the ice, it was ripply, slow moving, gentle. Then it transformed into these thick, smooth, silky ribbons, and brought to mind the image of the satiny flow of molasses. Then, it suddenly become frothy and churned with white caps. Within about 50 feet, the water changed appearance three times. I thought about how the water itself hadn't changed at all - at it's root, at it's core, it was still completely water, unchanged, fundamentally. But with the circumstances it ran into (the ice, the rock formations below, the rocks jutting out of the water), the way it behaved and it's appearance changed.

And I started thinking... is this true of we humans? Regardless of what life can throw at us, we are, at our core, our True Highest Self. Fundamentally, who we are does not change. Light, Love, Beauty, Life. That is unchanging. However, circumstances come along. The families we're born into, interactions with friends and unfriends, traumas, abuse, blessings, all these things can change the way we appear and act. Some people may have circumstances that manifest in their lives as raging waves, broiling seas, angry whitecaps. Some people may have circumstances that lead them to appear as smooth, silky, rich ribbons of ease. And we can all look and appear in different ways, at different times in our lives. Sometimes those appearances can rock us - we think "I'm so angry/out-of-control/nasty right now, I am a terrible person, I'm no good, no one loves me cause I don't deserve to be loved".

But I think the truth is, that even when our appearance seems a little rough or messy, we remain, at our core, unchanged. We are still that lovely, perfect, pure Self. Bumped around, altered a bit by the rocks we've run up against in our lives. But still solidly, fundamentally, ourselves. So, when you start to see behaviour manifesting, be aware of it, notice if it is simply a reaction to the circumstances in your life (maybe in the present, maybe from far back in your past), and then come back to rest in the knowledge that you are still YOU. Wonderful, lovely, perfect, beautiful. Unchanged. Just like that H2O!

I am grateful for the wonderful insights I receive, when I get soothed and quieted by Nature. She is the perfect teacher.

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