Ah, July, the month of grasses growing tall and the Fourth of July. Now is the time to start that summer reading list, spend a patriotic afternoon with family at a parade, watch fireworks after a BBQ, and appreciate your deep relationship with nature. When you look at a tree, do you see a natural resource, or do you see a friend? When immersing yourself in nature, it suddenly becomes easier to see the big picture. Small worries and anxieties seem to melt away through the gentle companionship of the natural world.
Plunge into a Book
Take some advice from a Dragonfly and enjoy a good reed.
One of the best complements to nature is a great book about the natural world. Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass does not belong locked up in high school classrooms, but begs to be read on a mountainside or in the overgrowth of a forest. Or, take time to reflect with Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. With her poetic prose, she will guide you into a deeper understanding of your surroundings
Be like the Ocean, and take some time to relax and coast.
Breathe in, slow down, and breathe out. The constant tidal motion of the ocean is an excellent teacher for when you feel frazzled and fried. Life may never stop moving, but like the ocean you can learn to give thanks for the high tides and find ways to appreciate the low tides.
Appreciate the Night Sky and see the big picture.
Since the past decade, scientists are beginning to recognize a better way to understand the natural world and our place in it. Instead of perceiving the value of an element as the sum of its individual parts, a more beautiful picture emerges when we start to view a single element as a part of a larger, interconnected web of relationships. Everything is in relationship with one another. A cell isn’t much alone, but with a few trillion cells you get a person. A rock only appears insignificant, and with a few million planet-sized rocks in the vacuum of space, you get a star. Similarly, it’s difficult to imagine humanity away from nature because we ourselves are a part of it. We are made of the same carbon and water that wildlife and flora are. We are connected to the earth in a beautiful and complex relationship. Take some time to notice the bigger story that you are a part of. While you’re at it, try to notice the universe that is inside of you!
Connect and Engage
Listen to the moon, and honor the cycles of nature.
Just as the tides of the ocean and the cycles of the moon are inextricably linked, you are similarly tied to the life of nature. Everything goes in phases, and, like the natural world, we are in constant change. Isn’t it exciting to be able to look out your window at the trees that go from green, to brown, to bare, to flowered, to green again and say: I do that too!
"I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.” Walt Whitman