There is so much negative, horrifying stuff going on in the world right now that it seems almost never-ending.
From our local worries with Covid and battles with anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers who seemingly want all our kids to get sick and die; to Texas declaring open war against women; to the even more dire global issues of Afghanistan’s women being wiped out and climate change threatening every last living thing on earth.
If I let myself dwell too long on all the negative, I become exhausted and overwhelmed by it all. It feels almost hopeless.
But then this week, I read this beautiful quote thanks to the amazing Andrea Scher:
Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the Earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.Robin Wall Kimmerer
It seems so unfair that even as we’re killing our beautiful planet, she is saving us, but nature and the Earth do exactly that.
Taking a walk outside – anytime, but especially on beautiful days like we’ve been having – is such a gift. Outdoors seems like the safest and sanest place to be right now.
In a perfect example of how awful humans are, I haven’t gotten to visit my beloved Alum Creek Dam in about a month. That’s because there has been a rash of auto part thefts in that exact parking lot – and, in fact, last time we parked in that lot to walk at sunrise, one of my friends’ cars was tampered with but we must have interrupted the thieves before they could remove the desired part.
It is simply infuriating that my friends and I are trying to relieve stress by walking at the dam at sunrise, only to experience a new man-made stress! And so we’ve avoided the dam for four long weeks, missing it the entire time. Sure, we found other places to walk and enjoy nature – but there’s nothing like that dam view.
This week, we finally decided to walk to the dam from my neighborhood to avoid the risk of parking there and having our cars attacked by cowardly car part thieves. We got a little longer walk than we’re used to – including running across a busy road, climbing up and down a steep grassy slope and climbing over barricades – but it only added to the adventure.
And oh, that dam view in the morning is worth a little added work!
We can always find a new sight, natural treasure or blessing if we simply take the time to explore and let our eyes, minds and hearts wander out in nature.
It doesn’t have to be a multi-hour road-trip to a national park; it can simply be a walk in your neighborhood or time spent in your own backyard on a lunch break or in between work calls.
After hours, Xage and I have been discovering new ways to spend time outdoors, even shopping at night markets instead of inside shops and malls.
I’ve also been trying to get down at puppy-level to see the world through the wondering eyes and inquisitive mind of our four-month-old Goldendoodle. This not only helps me puppy-proof the house indoors, but it also opens me up to a whole world of sights and sounds I may have otherwise missed – like a trio of tiny, magical mushrooms each no taller than a blade of glass.
Everything is new to Lambo – each new bird call, squirrel activity, growing thing and gust of wind is a source of marvel and amazement to this goofy little dog. She’s such a joy when I allow myself to slow down and truly observe and learn along with her.
There’s also beauty and joy in friendships and connections with family and loved ones. There are so many micro-moments throughout the day that can be positive and uplifting if we only pay attention and look for ways to connect and serve others.
If it has been a while since you spent a day out in nature, and if the cares and stresses of the world are weighing heavily upon you, I urge you to take a day to yourself for some forest breathing and self-care.
We’re coming up on the very best outdoor season in central Ohio: the glorious fall months. Take a walk, chase some waterfalls and find the tallest trees you can to sit beside and ponder. Nature’s beauty might just be the medicine you don’t even realize you’re needing.
Do you have a favorite outdoor spot to spend time when the world is weighing you down? I’d love to hear about your favorite natural getaways in the comments below or over on Facebook.