I am happy and tired from an afternoon of pleasure. Looking at my wild hair and darkened skin, I am reminded of the time I spent leading teenagers into the wilderness, when my daily routine followed the rhythms of the natural world. Today I took my family to the beach and spent more time in the waves than my children. I gave thanks for the swells and emerged smiling from each wave I rode to shore.
The water was still in the 50s during my first body surfing day in early June and I stood alone off the coast in New Hampshire. Today the sun was hot and I shared the ocean with many others; the handful of twelve year old boys with boundless energy catching every wave they could, the paddle boarders who crouched as they rode the waves and looked to me as if they were performing an ancient ceremony, the screaming children learning to bodyboard in the surf, and the bearded rider in a fedora and sunglasses. I felt the energy of sea in the gentle pushes it gave me as I let smaller waves pass by. I closed my eyes and felt myself being cleansed by the sun and salt. I felt at peace and at home.
Nature entrances us because as a species we were born and raised within it. We are bound to the environment in literally every breath we take and it seems fitting that the calm and joy I experienced today was a result of being present with the natural world. For millennia, humans lived, worked, and celebrated surrounded by nature. Now our daily routines involve office buildings and cars, and often leave us with a gap that used to be filled with the spiritual essence of the natural cycles of life. Technology creates miracles and moves us forward ever faster yet strips us the still moments our souls require to maintain our connection with the Earth.
Each hour I spend outside is full of healing. The salvation I seek in the woods and the water is an antidote to the time I spend on my laptop. It brings me back into alignment with the cycles of life and reminds me that spending time in nature is an integral part of the human experience.