Before going to bed, I’ve been reading a book about forest bathing and it’s opened a chasm of longing inside me. One of my passions is being in and around trees, gardens, and flowing water. That sad reality is this. I live in a desert.
I used to live in Cloudcroft, NM, a village 9,000 feet above sea level. I went on random nature walks with our dogs almost daily and never really realized how lucky I was. That is, until I moved to Las Cruces, NM and wished almost daily I could go back on the trails around my house.
I’ve always been happiest when I lived in places directly connected to greenery and flowing water. I inevitability look for places near where I live I can ground myself in grass or near clusters of trees.
Now, living in Rio Communities, NM near Albuquerque I have very few places I can ground myself. I mean, it’s the very definition of a desert.
What is it people say about longing? That it begets discontent? For myself, if I find myself longing for things like being in nature it means I truly need it in my life.
So, with all this complaining, (sorry for that 🙂 ) what I’m truly trying to figure out is how I can e content with what I have, although circumstances are not the best. It is as they say, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
Although I miss living in and near a forest, there is beauty to be found anywhere. Someday, I’ll most likely live in my coveted cabin in the woods. For now, I feel it’s important to find beauty and that connection to the earth in ways that befit the environment.
Who knows. Maybe someday I’ll long to be back in the desert for different reasons.
For now, I think I’ll explore the concept of Forest Bathing for my personal meditational study.
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
Because of recent changes I have done with my daily habits , I started to wonder about the redundancy of revisiting the same places every day. Usually, our everyday spaces are boring because of their familiarity. The same grocery stores, bedrooms and even window views lose their savor because they are always in our everyday lives.
I remembered the time I went on a European Music Tour while in college. Our first stop was Rome and on our second day we visited the Colosseum. All of us were in awe and were enthusiastically taking pictures. Well, others were while I stood staring at the structure a little ways from the group. Because I was disengaged from my fellow tourists, I noticed how many people passed by us on foot and in cars. One man was even running at a fast pace listening to music. None of them stopped to look. At the time I thought how sad it was they couldn’t take the time to look at such a magnificent architectural feat.
Now I have to wonder, are we all not the same? We pass by amazing, beautiful sights everyday without giving them much thought. I think it is because in our minds we have established we know everything we need to about the environment. We are comfortable and look elsewhere for insight or entertainment. Familiarity makes the mind hungry for something, anything more exciting.
The word which has popped into my head a lot is stimulation. In looking in the Cambridge dictionary, this word means, “an action or thing that causes someone or something to become more active or enthusiastic, or to develop or operate”. I believe, like anything, there are different daily sites, songs, books or moments which in turn stimulate parts of our brain, to encourage us towards our personal development.
The trick is, usually these daily simulations usually come in very small moments. Very rarely do we find ourselves engaged in the grandiose things we see on TV or read of in books. But the everyday things, and the decisions we make as we engage with them makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE in our life direction.
I found myself paying attention to small simple pleasures around me. I often thought, “How long has it been since I see this? . . . paid attention to this. . .? . . . stopped to study this?” I decided to take time to see those things.
More than the differences in our environment, think of the small changes within our bodies, minds and spirits which come every day as we a stimulated at different levels by our world? Sometimes we create our own world through music, books or TV. Other times we plunge into the world brought to us by God and others. Regardless, one of the most beautiful truths in the universe is there can never be a person exactly the same as us. We are our own glorious, ever changing creation.
Specifically, I wanted to show how our everyday environment does NOT stay in a sterile stay of regularity. Every moment is a gift which we can never experience again. The grass will never be the same shade, thickness or color. The trees won’t ever have the light shine the way it does again. And, most importantly, each of us will never be the same person as we are in this very moment.
Thinking about all these things, I took two pictures a day of the same shots near the park where I live in Provo, UT. Within in the one week I marveled at how much had changed both there in the photos and within myself. I rounded the pictures to give the illusion of seeing through a lens.
If you would like, take time to study each photo and see the changes which occurred. If not, simply enjoy the beauty of seeing these changes in fast motion.
I’ve wondered a lot these past few weeks the value of taking the time to see and appreciate beauty around us. From commercials on solitude during the quarantine and even free access to operas, ballets and classical concerts I’ve found myself reflecting on how much I needed to slow down and LOOK at the world around me.
A peace has come into my life even amidst the chaos, stress and anxiety.
To see, understand and appreciate beauty is an integral part of the human condition. Its deeply personal. I’ve noticed how those who lose track of themselves most readily forget to find and see beautiful things. To be truly lost in the dark means also being blind to beauty.
But just like anything, the higher elevated our minds are, the more attune we are to celestial beauty. Even if we feel we aren’t adequate or insightful enough to know or find the best of everything, I’ve found for myself there is beauty everywhere if we are willing to look for it.
I remember several years ago doing a research project on what I believed to be the most beautiful animated films. I believe what I sad then applies to now. It is silly but I was upset because my favorite films had not been listed. These were my thoughts concerning the matter six years ago.
It is natural to be emotionally attached to beautiful things, and even more so to be upset when they are not recognized.
Beauty and aesthetic opinions are ALWAYS subjective. . . Though beauty depends on personal opinion, I still believe there is a higher standard. To be able to recognize and appreciate true beauty takes time, patience and study.
So much of normal everyday life seems to be built upon abating physical appetites and receiving stimulation through our entertainment. But the experiences that really matter, which stick to us, are those which adhear to out spiritual desire to find beautiful things and experience them for ourselves.
Sometimes that is through a children’s story. Sometimes a photograph. It can be found in nature among trees and flowers and in looking up at the stars. Music at its peak also transports us to hearing and finding beauty within ourselves.
I wanted to share a few of my most favorite beautiful finds. I will list it by category. I find when I show others the things I love I understand and love myself more. It gives me confidence to know I can find beauty around me.
I. Background Art from Animated Shows
2. Avatar the Last Airbender
3. Hilda (2018)
4. Over the Garden Wall (2014)
II. Backgrounds from Japanese Animated Shows
Mushishi (2005, 2014)
2. Hyouka (2012)
3. Tsuritama (2012)
This post will be split into four or more parts! Stay tuned.