Nature is my healer. I feel such peace, such love and acceptance when I am enveloped by the ever-changing grandeur and gentleness of Nature.
I’m sitting at a picnic table overlooking Encinal Canyon in Malibu. Monet is sleeping, snoring, by my feet. The clouds are grey and blinding white and sweeping and cauliflowery and we are alone. The world is worlding and I am breathing-in the woodpecker, the rustling leaves, and God’s open, loving arms quietude.
Currently, Monet and I are literally camping (tent, air mattress, sleeping bag) in my niece’s back yard in Malibu as she and her husband have graciously allowed us to wait for Luna Bella Blu to be repaired. Unfortunately, on the rainy drive home from Cambria, the van started to malfunction and now my home-on-wheels is likely to cost me a fortune before I can get back on the road. In case you are wondering why I’m tenting it vs. bedding-it, first, the house is pretty full with my sister and cousin staying here temporarily, and also, I just prefer being outside. Yes, I have turned into one of those crazy auntie freaks. I crave the outdoors, air, coolness, the smell of trees, the ocean even the stars which give me a gust of icy crystals as if riding my e-bike down a windy Eastern Sierra path.
I feel full. Maybe it’s the gulp of water—I never drink enough—or this choir of indigenous plants encircling me like a bride. Maybe it’s my Monet who led the charge on our moderate, expansive hike and my sense of kite sailing gratitude to be alive in this blessed moment.
My nephew, Mark M. and I were talking this morning and agreed that devices are killing us, pulling us away from our purpose, our sense of wonder. They are instruments of destruction, driving wedges between people who have no business feuding. Our heads are down, scrolling, perusing, buying, distracting ourselves from our higher selves, and that is to leave the world better than we found it. My mantra, my creed that I espoused for 18 years as an 8th grade English Language Arts teacher, and virtually my entire other life as a journalist, student, and 1960s Flower Child.
What can I do, in this moment, to germinate hope and light, faith and peace?
For one, I’m trying to re-frame my challenges, trying to find the light in the darkness.
Trying to catch the good in the bad.
Trying to stay open, flexible.
Rigidity is a terrible quality. Being stubborn. Thinking you’re right when you very well might be, but so might someone else. Be right, that is. I’m stubborn, but getting less so as the years go by. I know it’s not my best characteristic. It stops me from sampling everything at the buffet table; if I only eat romaine lettuce with ranch dressing, I’m limiting my tastebuds from exploring arugula and bruised kale, for instance ( both of which happen to be my preferred salad greens). When people get older, it seems a good number of us get socially, politically, and mentally arthritic. We turn into cronies, sit on the couch and remote control our lives away. I never want to be like that. I want to stay as open as the vista I’m looking at right now, my chin tilted toward the hazy horizon and my thinning crown veiled by the noon sun.
My life was good before, but I believe it’s about to get better. Undeniably, my heart is heavy with my pup’s ill health and ever-present worry about the money that seems to be sieving out of my savings like granite chunks in a sand toy. But the more I dig, the more I sense there’s some sort of gold I need to mine, something delicious, intriguing, and quenchably satisfying.
I know this longing isn’t about finding a partner. If that happens, that’s great. But I know that this longing is something deeper, something hanging from a charred oak tree or swimming about in a mossy pond. What I need to know, to consume, is right here in Nature. My Monet gets it. The birds and plants get it.
I sense what I desire is connection. Connective tissue. Tangled, knotted roots, overlapping, interwoven, burrowing, flying, relaxing; brief and light feather wisps grazing along the spine, across-the-cheeks reminders that we are not alone. We belong to each other.