When you look at the tall, sturdy trees steaming in the morning sunlight,
When you feel the pounding rain on your face,
When you gaze up at the ever present majestic mountains,
When you watch the sun rise or set,
When you observe the drifting clouds,
When you’re startled by the flash of lightning or its sister clap of thunder,
When you fly over an immense, never ending forest,
When the ocean pounds the beach,
When the midday sun warms your back,
When you look to the distant horizon,
When you look up at the bright, blinking stars…
you realise just how insignificant you are.
when you think of those you love and those who love you, you realise just how significant you are.
We fill it, squash it, run away from it.
We ignore it, let it go unnoticed, struggle with its occasional awkwardness.
In a balloon this morning though, it was truly golden.
Watching the sun set through a gap in the tree line, whilst enjoying a beer in a hot tub. Rocking gently in chairs as old as the cabin, whilst the twilight and sounds of the forest consumed our awareness. The porch our new domain. Waking in the morning to the sounds of rainfall on the tin covered cabin roof, echoing through the silence of our isolation.
I have spent two days, off grid. No 4G, 3G or 2G, no wifi, or signal of any description.
It seemed strange and in contrast to a few days earlier in the Washington DC metro where, on a platform of maybe fifty people, I had counted only six who were not engaged with their mobile phone.
We live in an Internet world. So much so, that to be without it for only two days seems unfamiliar. As if something is missing. It seems frustrating because connection with the outside world is lost. Yet what is rediscovered is a connection with a different outside world. One of nature, contemplation, beauty.
The cabin had a visitor book, where many before us had recorded their message after their stay. A book. Even that a throwback to a time recently lost. Not an online feedback or comments page, no star rating or ‘liking’. Instead personal messages to our host. Many had recorded their enjoyment of the isolation and total peace.
There was something pleasing to write our thoughts, knowing that other travellers would happen by, to this cabin in the forest, and read and share with others past, present and future.
We are fascinated by light.
Our world is governed by it. Sunrise, sunset. Morning, night. Seeing, not seeing. Awake, asleep. Healthy, poorly. Life and death. Light controls our biological rhythms. As living creatures we are inextricably linked to light.
We are drawn to light, like moths almost. Who hasn’t paused to watch the sun rise or set? Who hasn’t marvelled at the richness of colour in that morning or night sky? Glistening dew and its water droplets reflecting sunlight. Sunlight dancing through a wooded canopy. A flash of lightening startling the dark sky.
We use light in idiom too, reflecting the importance of light to us. Idioms like: Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. A guiding light. In the light of… Out like a light. Shed light on. The light dawned. The glint in your eye. Even enlightenment, or seeing the light, to describe finding a connection to something greater.
And we try to replicate light in our manufactured world. Fluorescent light, incandescent light, light emitting diodes, laser lights etc. We use them to create brightly lit advertising displays, televisions, laptops, mobiles, rooms, houses…
I took this picture of sunrise over Niagara Falls this morning. Somehow, the man-made advertising light on the hotel seemed to destroy the majesty of the sun.
It served as a reminder of our fascination, alongside our abject inability to come close to the wonder of the natural world.
The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by one pebble
Everything you do makes a difference.
We’ve been sitting in the garden all day today. Under a parasol, around a garden table. Family. Breakfast, lunch and (soon) tea will have been consumed al fresco.
Wildlife has shared the experience with us. Goldfinches sipping water from a water butt. Various unidentified bugs crawling across hands and legs, occasionally swatted away. Bees buzzing around the nearby passion fruit climber. A wood pigeon interrupting the silence with its clapping wings as it launches into a tree from the lawn. The gentle rustle of trees whispering in the breeze.
Human noise has broken our silence too. There is a local festival on a couple of miles away and we can hear live music. Earlier, a succession of light aircraft came over – maybe fifteen in total – each headed in a similar direction, presumably off to a fair, or returning from one? Neighbours are starting up a barbecue and the noise of their preparations is joined by the drifting aroma of the smokey food.
All day the climate has been still. Light gentle wind, warming sunshine. It seems today we have lived inside out, and it has been good.
Being in the outdoors with all its sensory bounty.
We’ve been for a walk this morning. Through woodland, around lakes, past meadows.
Nature is glorious.
A little red backed beetle scuttling across the path in front of us, speeding on his way at a pace seemingly unfit for stoney terrain and his diminutive proportion. A swan family with six brand new cygnets wafting gently across the water, staying close, staying safe. A robin resting on a gate post, observing our approach with head cocked, inquisitive and remarkably trusting. A heron majestically soaring above a copse, with just the odd beat of its wings, on the search for an impromptu meal. Cowslip reaching up through long grass and nettles to peek at the sun. A long since fallen tree, performing a new role in its deadened state, home to moss, fungus, a myriad of insect life. Water on a lake, gently gliding left to right, the merest ripple inspired by an unfelt breeze. A lively chiwawa, out for a stroll with its owner, racing ahead, standing proud and telling us what’s what, with a big dog syndrome beyond its stature. Little fluorescent blue dragon flies flitting in staccato jerks beside our path. An unseen fish, stealing a morsel from the watery surface, leaving an expanding story of ripples. A coot, nesting beneath a swooping bough, preening and tidying, busy and private.
Being present in our world is such a privilege.
Today seems still.
Little or no wind. Trees firm, statesman-like, statuesque. Clouds spread like a cottonwool blanket across the sky; not racing to a future destination, not rain laden, not billowing. The light calm and purposeful. A constant. Not indecisive, not pulled asunder by cloud and cloud break, not overpowering, just there.
As a result, wildlife seems content. Happy to be. The birds seem at peace. Much seems slower. The shadows seem an equal fixture to that that is physical; holding their place alongside the things that cast them.
Sounds seem more balanced, more in harmony with the stillness around. They seem to complement what can be seen and felt. Sensory symphony.
Still is good.
This morning, the ice on the roof of my car looked like this.
Incredible that a little water, the right temperature and ambient conditions can produce such complex intricacy, yet delicate beauty.
I am exploring personal learning and growth currently, and working with an agricultural metaphor – plant a seed, provide the right conditions and nurture growth. Is this the way for people to learn and grow?
If such beauty on the roof can be created in nature with such simplicity, there has to be something here, surely?
I’ve been lucky enough to spend time outside today, in the sunshine. I’ve been walking. In open space. Near a river. In nature. Exploring with likeminded people. Coaches.
Nature can teach us much. Many things we struggle with in our human existence have long ago been resolved by nature. By the elements, by other species, by animal and plant. We build buildings with sophisticated cooling systems for hot climates, whilst termites solved the problem long ago, without technology. A tree draws water sixty seventy feet up into its structure without a single pump.
Not only can nature offer us clues to solutions for practical challenges, engineering conundrums, it can also offer insight to our challenges of mind, of thought, of feeling. Challenges around our very being. Our humanity.
Walking today I noticed just how perspective changes as you take another view, turn around, move closer, move away. Useful tools for exploring our own stuckness.
It’s easy to think grass, trees, shrubs, leaves, plants are all green. But today I also noticed just how many shades of green there are. Many enhanced still further by light or shade playing on their surface.
There are shades for our human worlds too. Problems are never one shade. Opportunities are never one shade. Relationships never one shade. Our Performance never one shade. Never one shade of solution. Never one shade of right or wrong, good or bad.
We would do well to remember this. To see the shade in our lives and to get perspective.
If you’re struggling with that, maybe go outside? Walk. Look. Notice.