19th April 2021
What does nature mean to you?
What does nature mean to you?
We are all told about how good it is for us to be in nature, to be grounded and in touch with the Earth but we also have individual feelings and emotions that arise when we are out in nature.
If I was to ask you what being in nature means for you what would you reply?
Would you roll your eyes and say that you’re a confirmed city dweller and have no time for people who hug trees and stare at the sky?
Would you laugh and say that you love being in nature?
Or would you say if only you had enough time you would go out into nature more, and it’s alright for people who aren’t working as many hours as you?
So I will ask the question again,
What does nature mean to you?
And how do you define nature? Is it lots of woodland, or green meadows, or hills, or being by the sea?
For me, nature is all of those things, and each of them conjures up different thoughts and feelings, but for the past year with all of the restrictions in place regarding travel I have very rarely been able to get to the sea and at one point even getting into woodland was difficult given the travel restrictions that were in place.
So for me this past year nature has been mainly woodland walks, and the emotions that it conjures up.
Some of these emotions are
I am grateful that I can walk along uneven tracks and paths, up the hills to see the best views, around fallen trees, or avoiding roots, and that I can walk for long distances to get to the best viewpoints. I can easily sit on the grass without fear of not being able to get back up.
When I see a tree that has fallen and from the trunk are new trees growing I am always curious as to how trees manage to bring new life out of death. Trees in particular fascinate me more than any other plant.
We are born curious and with a longing to learn.
As young children we continually pull things apart and put them together and yet as adults we often end up in jobs that don’t allow us to be curious, we are told what to do, how to do it and not to deviate in any way from this. We are given targets to hit that do not allow for curiosity. If we ask questions we are told just to get on with it, or it’s not our job to know why, we are just there to do it.
Hands up if this has been you at all.
No wonder so many people struggle with their emotional health in the workplace when it dampens down something that is so much a part of being human.
As with curiosity we are all born with vivid imaginations. Whenever I am in woodland, particularly ancient woodland, I imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago, when most of the country was covered in forests and people lived in small hamlets. I wonder who would have been travelling through the forest, where everyone lived. In among the woodlands nearest to me there is a boarding school that for hundreds of years was the home of the various Lords of the manor.
The long tree lined walkway is still there, as soon as you start to walk along it you can see the house in the distance, and whenever I walk along it I wonder what it would have been like travelling along to the house and who would have used the tree lined walk. Would the servants have had to use a much less grand entrance? There are cows grazing in what was once a deer park. I wonder what it would have been like full of deer.
We see children running around imagining that they are superheroes or intrepid explorers and using their imaginations in such vivid and often entertaining ways. As we age we often turn our imaginations from being positive and full of opportunity into something that is damaging. We imagine what life would be like if we had more money, lived in a bigger house, had a better relationship, more holidays.
We compare ourselves to others, usually in a negative way, imagining how other people are all living much more fulfilling lives than us.
Our imagination works against us with regard to our emotional health, anxiety tells us to expect the worst, that nobody likes us, to not trust anyone, or that we will be laughed at, phobias tell us that it is not safe to go out or to do certain things. Fear of the unknown stops us from changing our lifestyle and leaving the job that doesn’t allow us to be curious.
Whenever I am in nature I appreciate how lucky I am to be able to go into woodland, so much new housing is being built, especially where I live, and it feels as if so many woodlands are disappearing. I appreciate that I am able to enjoy ancient woodlands and countryside, as who knows how long before even more is swallowed up.
I also appreciate that in the great scheme of things I am only a very small cog, it is so easy to feel that we are so important and all of our worries are so big and to become overwhelmed, but put me in a huge field every day or a forest where all around me I can see nothing but trees or green untouched land, and I recalibrate and recognise that I and my problems are only a tiny moment in the ancient woodlands.
It is easy however to be caught up in the busy side of life, becoming one of those people who doesn’t have time, when it is going into woodland and nature that is essential to my wellbeing.
How often do we do this?
We know what the answer is and yet we allow ourselves to become distracted telling ourselves that we don’t have time.
Hopefully I will soon be able to visit the sea more often. I love the evening time when everyone is going away to eat and very few people are at the seashore, it is quiet except for the sound of the sea. The sound of waves gently lapping the shore is one of the top meditation sounds.
I appreciate the force of nature when the sea is choppy and looks angry. It’s as if nature is reminding us that we can’t control her, we can try but we won’t succeed.
As a child whenever we went anywhere for the day as a family we took a picnic. It was too expensive to eat out and most people took lunch with them and, having a Scottish mother, (the Scots are epic feeders), our picnics could have fed many families. Whenever I go out into nature, although this memory is mainly attached to the sea, as this is usually where we would venture for the day, I remember the huge flask that would appear, and the tin foil wrapped sandwiches of various flavours, which would invariably end up full of actual sand. Now I have my own little flask that I take, especially when it’s a cold day, and my mugs that double up as hand warmers when it’s a bit too cold to stop for long.
I feel responsible for looking after nature, I feel sadness when I see how people discard litter, not taking any care or protecting nature and the Earth. I am aware that we are only caretakers here for a small amount of time and that it is up to us to protect the Earth.
What about you. What do you feel when you are in nature?