by Ellen BaroneClimb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you... while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. - JOHN MUIR
One of the pitfalls of our wired lives is that it can be too easy to set course on a daily trajectory that renders us information rich but creatively depleted. As an on-the-go journalist and enthusiastic gadget girl, I'm grateful for the freewheeling lifestyle made possible by living in a plugged-in world. But it can be difficult to gauge when the balance has tipped from convenience to dysfunction.
There's nothing better way to regain my equilibrium than a walk in nature. I crave the connection to a kinder-gentler inner self that the sounds and silence of Mother Nature awaken. Only amidst the wind, clouds, trees, oceans and unrestrained landscapes does inspiration bubble to the surface and intuition whisper innovative solutions to obstacles.
At home, in the mountains of southern New Mexico, my daily walks take me through evergreen pine forests with snowmelt streams coursing through them and across windswept ridgeline tracks that follow the movements of deer, elk, mountain lion and black bear.
On the job, I seek out assignments that place me within nature and indulge my taste for the beauty and pure wildness of our blue planet. Whether I'm heli-hiking among the rugged ridges and mammoth peaks of the Canadian Rockies, sauntering along an isolated Baja beach, traipsing down ancient Peruvian footpaths, or across emerald farm fields in England, my mind switches off and my heart kicks in.
Apparently a singing heart is not only a figurative characterization of the nature-induced high I feel, but a medical by-product. In her article, Take a hike and call me in the morning (Washington Post, November 17, 2009), family physician Daphne Miller outlines why she, and doctors around the country, have started to make formal "park prescriptions" - medicating their patients with nature in order to prevent (or treat) health problems ranging from heart disease to attention deficit disorder - a part of their medicinal practice.
What is it about the natural world that heals hearts, soothes restless souls and motivates millions of people a year to pack up their outdoor gear and head for the wide-open spaces, soaring mountains, remote wilderness, beaches, deserts and other areas of great scenic beauty? I asked my twitter family and facebook friends to sound in on the subject. Listed below are a few of their responses. What about you? Share your thoughts below.
Marcia James Wilheim Nothing better than Thoreau's wisdom: In wildness is the preservation of the world. Knowing that wildness remains soothes my soul.
Allie Avernie Almario It strips you of things you "must have" and reminds you of things you "need" - peace, quiet, serenity.
Mike Fasano The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Serendipity Traveler Nature is the very breath of life awakening all my senses to the magnificence of creation and the brevity of life here to immerse ourselves blissfully in pure wonder. An ancient Gaelic Blessings sums it up for me:
"Deep Peace of the running wave to you;
Deep Peace of the flowing air to you;
Deep Peace of the quiet earth to you;
Deep Peace of the shining stars to you;
Deep Peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you;
Deep Peace of Christ.
Of Christ the light of the world to you;
Deep Peace of Christ to you."
@InnAlameda: We crave nature for escape from the buzz of human voices, to hear the wind & birds, or in snow to hear absolute quiet, peace for the soul/mind.
Travel entrepreneur Ellen Barone did what many of us only dream of doing: at the age of 35, she traded a successful academic career for the wild blue yonder and set out to explore the world and herself. In the decade since that intrepid decision, she has turned passion into profession journeying to more than 60 countries in search of evocative images and life-enriching adventures. Learn more at EllenBarone.com