Been awhile since I posted, but I’ve been pondering this one for some time. I once worked at a large company which had a cafeteria and an enclosed outdoor area where people who chose to could sit. Of course, I usually ate outdoors. One day, as I was lunching and causally glancing over a low white wall at some leafy tree branches swaying in the breeze, an enchanting dance of light and shadow, I suddenly realized something. I mean, the fact of it hit me as one of those priceless and unquestionable truths that one stumbles upon only a few times in his or her life. The kind of truth that you guard well from that point on. Now this truth may strike you as trivial, or even obvious, but I wonder how many people have given it any real thought?
What in the world I’m going on about, you wonder? Well, it’s this: we need nature’s movements. It’s many, many fluctuations and variations. We need to see swaying leaves and grasses, and watch puffy clouds meander by. We need the reassuring back and forth of the tide, and to hear the crash of the waves. We need to feel the soft touch of the wind on our faces, in our hair. We need to hear the light, cheerful tunes of songbirds and the melodic babble and tinkle of water as it flows down a river. We need to step back into nature and draw in the thousands of interconnected scents invisibly present: wildflowers and pine, sage in heat, soil and petrichor. To touch and feel the huge variety of shapes that are out there, from the sharp of a rock as you heft it, to the soft of a lover’s skin. We are not machines. At least, not yet.
We need to know that there will always be a new day. Sunrises and sunsets. All of these things are deeply ingrained in our very genes by millions, no, billions of years of evolution.
You’ve heard of “cabin fever”? Be in a house for too long, no matter how comfortable, and it will become like a prison. House arrest. We’ve got to get out. That makes me wonder what will happen to people in the future (should we last that long) who might spend long periods of time in sterile space craft. The next time you go out, take a few moments to look around you. Use your senses, all of them. Don’t just be in nature, experience the outdoors and you’ll realize that we are, in fact, walking sensory organs finely tuned to this planet.
A related story: We once had a dog who was the sweetest friend you could have. His name was Chaparral. He loved life, as dogs are wont to do. Sadly, he got cancer at a young age and began to get weaker. When the day finally came that he knew he was about to pass he made his way to the front door. I’d been watching him closely and knew what was happening. He didn’t want to die indoors but wanted to be out in the real, the sensory world. It was instinctual. So I took him out and laid him on a blanket under the mulberry tree and lay beside him until he passed. I’ve heard similar stories about other people’s pets.
The following is a video I made on a hike with my kid. It’s not lengthy – around 35 seconds. But it shouldn’t take that long for you to get where I’m coming from. I still haven’t figured out how to make a quality Youtube so it’s not crystal clear; and yet I think the unclarity adds a Monet-like feeling to it. My apologies also for the muttering you hear. Just me. Ignore that.
Here’s a bunch of thoroughly enjoyable (and much better made) videos I found on the net, some with instrumental music and some without. Note: most of these are seriously long.
On another note, I am finally planning a hike on the PCT (the Pacific Crest Trail) at the end of the month. Hoping to cover 500 miles or so, or at least give it a good shot.