"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be". Anne Frank
The environment in which we live has a massive impact on how we feel emotionally and mentally. I don't just mean the people, I mean the smell, noise, temperature, sense of space, texture and how much light we have. In my last job I spent most of the time in a small dark office alone, with no natural light, rotting plaster on the walls and no access to a radio. It was cold, and the whole Church had very little sunlight or windows so was dark almost all of the time.
For me nature and my connection with it plays a vital role in my well being. The rhythm of nature, growth, rain, beauty and daylight hours all feed in to my mood and sense of peace. City and urban living is sometimes essential and I love dipping in to it, but I prefer to be out in the sticks to be honest.
Some of my strongest memories too, are linked with weather events funnily enough. The drought of 1976 breaking with a huge electrical storm, which my mum got me out of bed to see. No kidding, it was like something out of a primordial creation film with steam and thunder with a very real fear of dinosaurs walking up the A30. The huge waves in the sea on a family holiday, crashing on the beach, red from the cliff walls, powering into the ground with such a ferocious roar it was scary. The storm of 1987. My wedding - The flood and monsoon rain of the century. Electrical storms out at sea whilst my husband and I watched from the beach restaurant in Greece and lightening danced in forks and blankets across a navy and pink sky. The ice storm where the whole street was encased in an inch of solid ice and I ended up on all fours trying to get to my friend's house! Living in England affords me a huge variety of weather experience but also the opportunity to visit amazing landscapes and beautiful secret nooks.
The outdoors basically right sizes me, offers up mindfulness on tap and a huge appreciation of the process and awesomeness of creation. When I am very ill with depression, life lacks colour, definition or inspiration. Its all flat, grey and meaningless. Being outdoors helps to kick-start my inner being by assaulting me with sensory stimuli, which then feeds in to my emotional experience, my mood and then a response which is usually positive and dynamic. It kind of shakes me up and down a bit like a dormant glow stick.
There are lessons in observing nature that gift you with the fundamental survival ideals for most situations. Although the earth is sometimes parched, water will come either by hand or by cloud. Food is available in cycles of growth, in fields, gardens or pots. Shelter can be carved out of stone in permanence, or, there for a season until the roaring wind blows it away, scattering the boards which can, if so desired, be rebuilt into another shape of safe haven. The transformation of caterpillar, cocoon and butterfly, and the short lived glory of the may fly. There is also the ravaging of prey in the carnivorous cycle, rutting and raging and occasionally the earth splits open in groaning agony and spits fire and brimstone into the atmosphere as it attempts to readjust to what is. There is a process and a purpose.
Nature and I are one of the same. Thinking I am elevated in some way or beyond it's whims is hideously arrogant. But I can practice sitting within it, and use it all as a mirror and gentle teacher, connect with my own ebb and flow and re-energise myself. I remind myself that all things work together, there is an underlying pattern of connection and even if I have been away as a result of my disordered mind, she waits patiently in ancient rhythm to welcome me back in an nourish me.
Ann Frank was correct when she felt that nature helps us to recognise that all is as it should be, even if we are not sure as to why. Persevere.