More and more studies are coming out now, reinforcing the idea that time spent in nature is so good for us. Big surprise there! For centuries we spent all of our time living in and with nature. What could be more, well, natural? But I must say I did not have a full understanding of the importance of nature in my life until I moved away from towns and cities altogether. Most importantly I missed natural silence while living in cities. My entire soul longed to NOT hear cars and other people around me. This longing became more strong as I grew older, and finally Mike and I reached the age where we were no longer forced to live near others for jobs and financial reasons.
It seems now that I learn a new lesson everyday by living close to nature. First I realized I could finally begin living in the present. Meditation and mindfulness seem so natural here with so few distractions. And now, as I observe and contemplate the loss of many loved ones, I can’t help but think, “What could be more natural?” Of course that does not ease the pain of loss, but it does make it feel quite a bit less personal. And what could be more natural than grieving? We humans have been doing that since the beginning of our species.
Living close to nature requires our full attention, that is what I’ve learned as I begin displaying my photos at the local Space Gallery this July. Look away for a moment and you have missed the most incredible sunrise or sunset, changing second by second…
…or the arrival of a Road Runner right outside our glass door. There is so much to be missed!
That is why this quote speaks to me everyday. I wish the same for you!
“…we all know how this ends, so rushing through life is senseless. As our inner life grows ever more luminous, the chatter of the speed-and-greed world slowly fades, leaving us with greater peace, tranquility, quiet and contentment.” — Arthur Rosenfeld
One thing I never want to happen, but I know does, is that potential new friends here may decide we cannot relate because I spent so much time at the university. To tell you the truth, this discrepancy never even occurs to me.
My own observation about boomers and college:
Those who didn’t go to college often wish they had had the chance.
Those who did go sometimes wonder why they bothered.
How many boomers went to college anyway? Census data estimates that 28.8 percent of Baby Boomers have earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher, while another 28.9 percent have attended some college classes.
It seems family views and monetary pressures were the largest influence on why many of us attended college. Because my Dad was a professor, everyone in my family got free tuition at Colorado College. We all went there at some time including my Mom.
I guess I always assumed that those who didn’t go to college didn’t want to, but I see now how parental encouragement or total non-encouragement played an important role. Mike’s father didn’t offer any support or encouragement. It was the old, “the Navy training was good enough for me, so it’s good enough for you!” And this was during the Vietnam War! I also learned from Mike that a lot of us learn more easily from doing, not listening to some long-winded professor. Some of us are physical and visual learners.
I was raised by a college professor and a teacher. I was totally brain-washed that college is good for you. My Dad and Mom were the first kids in their family to go to college, and I would have to say it was “very, very good to them.” It was also a career-maker for me, and I truly appreciate that fact, but that isn’t where I learned the most important lessons in my life. Not even close. In the end, I attended graduate school for a specific career.
I think we learn our most important lessons by living our lives and paying close attention to what works for us, and what doesn’t. What careers or work environments bring out the best in us? What jobs feed on our own natural abilities and talents? Unfortunately I had to wait until I quit work altogether to learn the most about my natural interests and talents.
Ask yourself today: What would you do if you had all the time in the world? What activities make you lose touch with time and place and take you away to your own great place in your head? Now I only do what gets me going and I have the time to observe exactly what that is. For me now it is gardening, anything with vivid colors, photography, cooking, yoga….
I’ll never forget my first earthquake. I was living in Bangkok at age 19. I had taken a bath and was just standing up when I felt super dizzy and disoriented. Being from Kansas, I assumed it was my problem. It never occurred to me that the earth beneath my feet was moving!
I have lived in a number of places that experience regular earthquakes, most in Asia, but my first professional position after graduate school was at the University of Utah Government Documents in Salt Lake City. You should see the EPA report on what a major earthquake could do to that town!
When I studied Chinese in Taipei we had short ones about once a month. And each time I thought, ” I hate this place and now I’ll probably die here!” That convinced me permanently not to live in an earthquake zone and I haven’t since. I figure life is stressful enough without having to worry about the stability of the ground beneath my feet. Those that live in earthquake zones with 99% chance of the big one perplex me. Fatalism at its best I guess.
After the recent quakes, the Governor of California said Saturday that “governments must strengthen alert systems and building codes, and residents should make sure they know how to protect themselves during an earthquake.” Good luck with that!
When the entire earth seems out to get me, I am not optimistic…
It isn’t easy being ripped off by the medical establishment, and funny how they do it when you are most upset and vulnerable. We were told to take Rasta to an eye specialist for his apparent glaucoma and blindness in one eye. We went up to Colorado Springs on Tuesday for help. Instead we got a very sad diagnosis and a bill for $400 dollar for meds that would not help his blindness. So why did we pay it?
As you might guess I was very upset, and Mike was afraid to upset me further by protesting $230 worth of meds. when it seemed certain that Rasta would lose that eye anyway. So we paid and left. Only later I got to wondering how the bill added up to $400 for a 20 minute appointment. When I looked closer they charged us $160 for eye drops for glaucoma even though we were all fairly certain that his left eye was not salvageable. I felt like they took advantage of my own vulnerability and I was angry.
This is my cautionary tale….
The mornings are when I seek solace in my garden. No matter how difficult my sleep has been, or how disturbing the world seems, when I walk outside and hear the silence of nature, I find reassurance that we are all OK.
I have come to realize that this is a feeling most will never know, and one that you must fully experience to know in your heart. Recent and not so recent studies have shown that a prolonged and solid connection with nature soothes us and reduces our stress. I had small glimpses of this in my backyard in Fort Collins, but I could still hear road traffic in the distance. I could still feel the tension in those around me, the need for city vigilance.
Now I know, finally at the age of 64, the peace that only nature can offer me. I hope you may also experience this in your daily life.
I’ve been feeling a little lost since the summer solstice last week. We had company and while they were here my puppy Rasta began to look very ill. It turned out to be eye problems, with probable glaucoma in one eye. He was barely moving and looked terrible. I had no idea how painful glaucoma can be! We are now giving him painkillers and thinking about taking him to a dog ophthalmologist. (Who knew?)
This was all so traumatic for me. Rasta and I are very close, and in a place where I have so few real friends, I depend on him so much. Since we lost Charlie our cat just a few weeks ago I have been thinking about death too much I guess. Just about everyone in my family is elderly and have a number of health challenges including myself. When did my whole world change? When did I begin wondering when my dog, my family and I will die? Nice summer solstice theme, huh? I do feel fortunate to have had my parents and siblings for so much of my life…
I often am surprised to find out how old I am. How about you?