“We need the tonic of wildness. At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Nature is my therapy.
It feels like I met my therapist only recently, taking on weekly therapy sessions in the local mountains. But when I really think about it, I realize I've slowly discovered her over the course of my whole life. She was there all along, as a seminal component of my upbringing and a quiet docent leading me into adulthood.
Nature has helped me figure out life, long before I realized life needed figuring.
Growing up, I lived in an area of California with a lot of open space--rolling oak-dotted hills, peaceful babbling creeks, stunning rocky shorelines, open fields of grapes, horses, and cattle. I think California is the most naturally beautiful spot on the planet, and the Central Coast is the heart of that beauty. I was extremely lucky to spend my first 18 years on there.
Though truth be told, you would never have heard me say any of that when I was a kid.
I didn't truly appreciate that beauty as a teenager--all I wanted was to live in the big city. We regularly traveled to Southern California to visit family and Los Angeles was where I absolutely had to be. Big freeways, big buildings, lots of lights, rap music, grit, cement. Its endless possibilities scared me, but that fear bred excitement, and excitement was what I wanted in life.
Now that I actually live in Los Angeles, and have for some 17 years now, I know I was right--I do love the city life. But living in the city also gave me a gift that I never anticipated--an appreciation for the beauty of my hometown. A real appreciation for wide open spaces.
Nature, forests, creeks, rivers, fields, weeds, wildlife, quiet, calmness, and all the things that you find in small town life are all just as important to me now as the excitement I find in the city. They balance one another. Without my ability to explore all the gorgeous natural wonders California has to offer, or to simply visit my mother back on the Central Coast, I'm pretty sure Los Angeles would drive me insane.
So I go into nature as often as I can.
I go to find stillness, where all I can hear are the birds chirping and leaves rustling.
I go to find peace and get away from my everyday stress.
I go to soak in the natural majesty of the world around us.
I go to feel small, and really understand the insignificance of my personal dramedies.
I go to spend a few hours with myself so I can think/reflect/process.
I go to find myself.
Therapy, to me at least, is pretty much the same thing--taking the time to think/reflect/process--except with a paid professional. The training and expertise of a professional therapy experience shouldn't be underestimated. They can guide you to unexplored areas of your mind, encourage you to ask the right questions of yourself, help you to open the doors on your life you might otherwise choose to lock up.
I'm 100% certain I could also benefit from a real trained therapist. But in the meantime, I have Dr. Earth, and she usually does a pretty good job.
The more time I spend in nature the more I am able to deal with life and all its complexities.
The more time I spend in nature the more I learn to distance myself from distractions.
The more time I spend in nature the more I understand that not everything needs to be perfect.
The more time I spend in nature the more I realize there's so much I don't know.
The more time I spend in nature the better I feel, and isn't that the point of therapy?