March 3, 2021
During Covid, a lot of people got back to nature. Earth proved to be the ultimate mother for many Californians during this past year, providing comfort and solace for the wall-weary. For many Californians, Covid has forced them inside of their homes with little access to the outdoors. Single dwellers were abruptly forced into seclusion and many families suddenly changed their work, school, and extracurricular activities routine without much choice in the matter. Outside forces began to weigh heavily upon our lives and our freedom seemed compromised. But humans are nothing if not resilient and inventive. We figured out ways to make it work, adjusted, and reassessed many facets of our lives, including our relationship with Mother Nature.
With restrictions placed on areas where people gather in groups, lots of folks began to look to more solo or family-oriented activities such as hiking, beach days, walking, biking, and camping in remote areas. I live near quite a few hiking trails in Topanga and I have seen the amount of people at these trails increase ten-fold (if not more) since the onset of the Covid quarantine. Without our usual distractions like malls, movies, and restaurants to fulfill our need for connection and activity, the inherent freedom and vastness of nature has become incredibly alluring. Spending time outside in the elements offers us all a gift many of us didn’t even realize was there for us.
I feel this return to the outdoors contains a hidden message for those who seek. In fact, I believe we can learn most of what we need to know about life by simply taking a bit of time out to observe nature. This may be a bit esoteric for some, but I do think there are some universal messages available for anyone willing to listen. One is that we humans need wide open wild spaces. Not just manicured parks and golf courses, but free nature in all her glory--thorny, soft, sometimes with difficult terrain and sometimes gentle and easy. This is like a direct reflection of our lives as humans--sometimes it’s rocky and rough and other times it’s smooth and fun. When we take some time to be with Mother Nature on her turf, the way she was created, it allows for us to get her know her and her rhythms better. Going on a hike and taking a moment to just sit and observe all the life springing forth from even the most desolate conditions is a hopeful feeling. Life in all forms is resilient and such a powerful force. Sitting on the shore of the beach and watching the waves swell, build, crash, recede back, only to begin the cycle of ebb and flow again is a reminder that our lives are also a cycle of ebb and flow. Everything moves in cycles, including our busy human lives.
Spending time in nature fosters a personal relationship with the earth that supports us and can bring us into harmony with the natural flow. The old saying, “change is the only constant” becomes evident when spending time outdoors in the wild. As many of us have spent more time than ever outside, we have witnessed the physical changes that accompany the day moving into night and the different seasons coming and going. Flowers bloom and die, scorching summers move into milder falls, day lengthen and shorten, earth shifts, leaves change color, weather patterns change. Nothing physical stays the same forever, not even the earth we stand on. However, somehow, we manage to move through it all and come out the other side, different and wiser. Like nature, our movement through difficult situations can be graceful and agile, or conversely, clumsy and slow. In a world where many people want to separate experiences, circumstances, and even their fellow humans into “this or that”, we can see from nature that most things are “this and that.” We can be graceful and clumsy all in the same day. There’s room in all of us for many parts to exist simultaneously, just like there’s room on this beautiful planet for all sorts of wildly different things, people, animals, and places to co-exist together and symbiotically.
Covid has been a rough ride for many of us and even if we feel powerless, we must remember that we always retain the power to make the choice of how we handle different situations that life throws at us. We can either buck the current or ride the wave. And to you, I say, happy surfing!