Yesterday a friend of mine mentioned how unifying nature can be. She and her husband had recently been out west visiting some of our inimitable national parks. She relayed how, in a crowd of people of all nationalities, all colors, and all ages, everyone seemed to have the same reaction to a spectacular vista or a gamboling baby animal. As if according to some inaudible cue, each individual would simultaneously gasp or laugh or smile or turn excitedly and point out the scene to someone standing nearby.
In the midst of omnipotent nature, we are all in awe. Our reactions are the same, whatever our religion, whatever our cultural experiences, whatever our political beliefs.
It was a remarkable moment of clarity, she said. In an era where we sometimes feel irreparably divided, painfully separated from each other, the beauty and majesty of nature seemed to momentarily bring everyone together. Any tensions that may have existed among this disparate group of people in another setting seemed to dissolve when all were focused on the grandeur of nature.
It seems too simple a solution, perhaps. If everyone spent more time immersed in the natural world, could we all be more tolerant of each other? More understanding of our differences? Better able to recognize the many ways we are all the same?
There is no doubt time spent in nature has a healing power. It calms us. Brings us peace. Reconnects us to our most elemental selves.
Perhaps my friend has stumbled upon one piece of the solution to our fractured society. While working on The Last Resort, I realized that my need to spend time outdoors is probably an inherited trait. I need to be soothed by a verdant woodland or a gurgling stream. Perhaps everyone does.
I encourage you to put down your electronic device, step away from that keyboard, and take a few minutes to really notice something in your natural surroundings. Step outside for a moment and watch a bird circling a tree, feel the soft grass under your bare feet, listen to the chattering of a squirrel, check out what’s growing in your neighbor’s flower pot, look up at the clouds. Allow all your senses to really focus on something other than the strife in the world for just a few minutes.
Don’t you feel better already?