My family and friends have long considered me a ‘bah humbug’ person in the terms of the outdoors.
First off, let me explain something. I live in a extremely beautiful place, where I see untouched forests and sunsets over bridges and water rippling between the marsh grass.
And let me also tell you this.
I’ve shielded my eyes from the sunrise and complained about the mosquitoes over the water so many times I’ve lost count. It’s hard for me sometimes to see the big picture beauty of nature when I’m too busy swatting away bugs. I long to have a “Lucy Pevensie staring into the fire and seeing Aslan” moment, but the smoke of the campfire always seems to blow in my eyes.
The thing about the outdoors is this. To experience the truly pure, natural ‘great outdoors’ in modern culture, you have to go out of your way. It’s a let down. It’s a wanna-be of polaroids past. It’s a ghost echo lingering on; it’s the disappointment of reading Little House on the Prairie, walking outside to pick wildflowers, and then re-realizing the concrete block around you.
At least, that’s what I used to tell myself. Those were my excuses.
You see, accessible nature for the common man is not picture-perfect Instagram posts of sunsets over rippling water. It’s the sitting in traffic on the bridge while listening to the news report, and being able to glance over and see a pink sky.
The great outdoors is not always the National Geographic covers of mountain peaks. It’s a little kid taking their piece of cardboard to the top of the grassy hill in the playground and surfing it down to the bottom. It’s weaving pinestraw into friendship bracelets, and stacking little pebbles into castles.
The great outdoors is not always scuba-diving into the barrier reefs. It’s catching tadpoles in a backyard stream with your brother, or watching a pet beta fish’s fins flow through the water like a silk scarf in the wind.
Nature isn’t always listening to birds chirping in the morning, or sitting in the middle of an aviary and charting breeds. It’s gallivanting through the mud and underbrush in flip flops to feed the family chickens before mom gets home, because you forgot again.
If we expect our own ‘Great Outdoors’ to be one big, glorious National Geographic cover index, we’ll get disappointed time and time again.
In some cases, all the integrated that the common man can access is a houseplant. A potted plant, resting on a coffee table in the middle of a living room with carpet stains. That plant has uniquely serrated leaves and rich chlorifil greenness nonetheless.
I agree that traveling the world and practically living in national parks would definitely bring about some deep thoughts and meditation, probably a lot of growth as a person, probably some good experiences to draw from. I do hope to travel the world and visit several national parks in my life. I do love the big things in life, relating to nature. I’m happiest visiting the mountains as I ever am.
Just, that’s not where ‘we the common man,’ should always have to find our love of nature. Because it’s not possible. If you are the type of person who craves beauty and nature and all these things as an emotional, mental and spiritual boost (and that’s not bad. Hey, I’m looking at you, INFPs.) then you will have to learn to find those things elsewhere. Small things in life, as they say.
You know what I find most inspiringly beautiful? A little dandelion sprouting out of broken cement. Even in the trodden down paths of a city’s downtown, a dandelion still pushes its way through, waiting to be a deadened wish, waiting to be tucked over an ear, waiting to be looked down at and smiled upon. Maybe that little dandelion is waiting for the person who leans down to look at it and thinks, yes, this is something real- then continues walking. No photo with a #authentic post needed to validate the complete realness of something like a flowery weed in a sidewalk.
Will I ever be a nature girl? Who knows, maybe. I love the outdoors when it helps me focus; I find sitting in the woods can get my introspective side kicked up more concisely than me sitting on top of my bed does. I love the smell of crisp air.
But I’m also a girl of stubborness, oversensitivity and practicality. When I have my fits of poetic sentiment and decide to go tromping through the woods, a bug flying in my face snaps me out of it pretty quick, and puts me in a worse mood than before I left. When I see photographs of the beautiful blueridge mountains and decide to visit them, getting sick in the airport and having a completely shot bank account kind of makes me wonder what kind of ‘appreciating nature’ trip this is anyway.
That’s why it is so essential, to me at least, to find nature’s beauty in everyday life. It’s not a separate world to escape to- it’s our world, and it refuses to leave us in a complete concrete block. The dandelion still stays.
The days where there are blue skies, not a cloud in them- they are nice.
However, I’ve always loved the whispy, blanketing, whipped pillows of grey-blue-dirtywhite clouds myself. Nothing is perfect, not even the sky; but there’s beauty in the imperfection.