Space and nature

Various studies have apparently shown that people with depression respond well (i.e. improve?) when they regularly spend time in nature. This finding is welcome, if not rather axiomatic, as anyone who is lucky enough to spend time in nature will often attest to the restorative potential the ‘great outdoors’ holds.

I have often thought our dissasociation from the earth’s more gentle rhythms is problematic. This isn’t meant as a bah humbug to the good that technological and other advances can bring. But, life in the West often seems to be geared around better, faster, more ~ whether in terms of consumption, work, and even pleasure. i.e. how many wonderful activities can we pack into the day/weekend/vacation?  And yet, as I know from my experiences though I dare not hope to speak for anyone else, the time spent outdoors in vast swathes of space is the best re-balancing exercise I can find. Time spent walking through miles of forest or along endless shores recalibrates my settings ~ perhaps to the ‘factory settings’ I arrived with, who knows ~ and even better still is the feeling of being in those moments and enjoying them for what they are.

Turning a corner on the beach, the wind dropping away, silence emerging, perhaps punctuated by a gull’s squak or the flapping wings of other birds overhead, silence again, waves lapping, the gentle hiss of nature in play when other, more obvious, sounds are silenced. There is a wonderful stillness in those times. Nothing behind you, nothing as yet in front, just the immediacy of the moment when all is possible, and most wonderfully how it is to feel and be alive.

In those moments thoughts that otherwise (and all too often) arise in my mind about the need to be doing and achieving more, better, faster, usually in order to accrue ‘better’ possessions or status, have no place to all. Those thoughts simply are not there. The immediacy of those moments shows up the fallacy of belief in ‘security’ or status or whatever else our busy-iness represents to us as individuals. As I have said many times before, joy comes from the simplest of things. But perhaps the simplest of all (and contrarily the most difficult) is the ability to just be in the moment and enjoy it for what it is. Vast spaces in nature help me to achieve that, even if only momentarily, I hope you find your own ‘factory setting’ prompts too.

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