Frustrated, stressed and lost. Those adjectives have described my life as a post-grad, and I know they describe the lives of many young and old. But, what if I told you there was a simple way to connect to your soul and gain clarity on your life? This past weekend, I did just that. The best part was I didn’t even intend for it to happen.
Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that nature was essential to creativity and humanity. He put forth the foundation of transcendentalism, a belief system that suggests that the divine, or God, suffuses nature and that reality can be understood by studying nature.
Now, I am not trying to tell you what to believe, but in my experience I find this to be 100 percent accurate. Nothing can compare to breathing in fresh air on a grassy field. Nature brings a peace to our lives that we fail to gain on our own.
There’s a reason cities have parks to stroll through. There’s a reason we vacation on beaches or in the mountains. And, there is a reason that when we take that first step on a fresh mowed lawn we feel a connection that’s lost through our everyday, metropolitan lives.
This past Labor Day Weekend, I traveled to New Hampshire, a state surrounded by nature. The mountains offered me sights I had not seen in a while, the lakes and rivers offered an earthy scent, and the remoteness provided the perfect opportunity to gaze at the stars, a novelty lost in big cities.
While in New Hampshire, I walked through the towns and saw the rivers close-up. The clean streets and friendly atmosphere were a welcomed changed to the garbage lined paths of New York City. Furthermore, the vastness of the mountains as viewed from the peak of Mount Washington provided me with a calming sense of peace.
Peace has been lost on me for quite some time. No, I really am not stressed in the normal sense of the word; but, I have felt disconnected, and I didn’t really realize it until I took a step into the wild side of New Hampshire.
My trip began as many of my trips do, on a bus. This time, however, I had the opportunity to leave at 6:00 a.m., an odd time in New York City. The streets at this hour are completely dead. No one wakes up that early on a Saturday morning, and I relished in the quiet. It almost made me sad to leave for a few days. But, as I had already bought my ticket, I quickly pushed those feelings aside.
After transferring through Boston and arriving in Concord, I was taken to the little town of Plymouth, NH. The town is small, but complete with prep schools and Plymouth State University. This small town with privately owned businesses took me back in time to a much, much simpler past and made me feel a calmness that I have not felt in a long, long time. I now understood why so many writers, painters and creative persons travel to the country for inspiration.
Immediately, I was encouraged to walk through the town and view the buildings juxtaposed against a backdrop of tree-lined mountains. The scent was intoxicating, as the pine mixed with the fresh earth and the hint of fall in the air. The weather was cool and comfortable, and I couldn’t help but smile.
On one of my many outings through the lovely state of New Hampshire, I couldn’t help but notice how most of the area was untouched, preserved for the benefit of the tourists and locals alike. Immediately, I was appreciative of the conservation efforts put in place so this land could be appreciated for years to come.
As I ascended Mt. Washington on the cogg railway, I let my mind get lost in the events of my last eight months. I let my thoughts take me through my journey as I ascended to the peak, and I finally began to see through the fog.
I reached the peak, and found that my once jumbled thoughts scattered with the clouds. In the same way that the view from the top provided total clarity, I saw my life clearly for the first time in a long time. Nature is magical in that way.
Nature gives us the opportunity to step back and focus our attention on a world much bigger than ourselves. Until this past weekend, I failed to see the importance of it in our every day lives. The effect nature has on us is greater than any skyscraper or bridge seen in the city; it brings us to our roots and enables deeper meaning to form in our lives.
If you ever feel lost, confused or just downright frustrated at the world, I encourage you to get away and head straight to the outdoors. Sure spa days and sight seeing can be great, but they don’t provide the deep connection to life that nature can provide.
Did I walk away completely free of any problem I may ever encounter? No. But, Did I walk away with a peace about the issues and the confidence to know that I can tackle them successfully? Definitely.
As Emerson once wrote, “Live in the sunshine. Swim the sea. Drink the wild air.” Give nature a chance. You won’t be disappointed.