Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, almost under siege, as though there is too much stuff, too much information and my mind can’t fit in anything else. My mind is feeling jumbled and I’m finding it hard to process thoughts.
I’m finding some relief in getting out into nature, just a simple walk or swimming in the lake. It’s like a cold compress for my weary head.
I was talking about this with Luis the other day and during the course of the conversation, I had a flash of insight: Being in Nature was providing some relief because Nature doesn’t need anything from me, Nature just is.
When I look at my everyday life, I am literally bombarded with information, products and services, all waving their arms and shouting “look at me, look at me, look at mmeeeeee!!”. Take a supermarket for example, practically every single item in there has been specifically designed to grab your attention, keep it and create a want/need/desire in you to have that item. Looking around, there is very little that hasn’t undergone this ‘commodification’. Once I realised this, going to the supermarket can actually be an overwhelming experience, with products ‘shouting’ at us. It’s the same everywhere in a busy, urban environment; endless shops, products, billboards, adverts, all trying to pull in our attention and gain something from us. They all need us, our attention, to survive, to exist.
In contrast, Nature needs nothing from us. It doesn’t need us to exist, to survive. It’s perfectly happy to do its own thing and it is gloriously unconcerned with our existence. The relief to be found in this is immense. Yes, we can go and hug a tree and yes, it is a beautiful experience. (I confess, I’m a tree hugger in case you hadn’t guessed by now!) BUT the tree doesn’t need us, it doesn’t need hugs to survive although it’s perfectly happy with the hugs. There’s no sense of want emanating from the tree. This sense of ‘no-grasping’ is amplified by more elements in Nature; the lake, the grass, the water, the sky: all uninvolved in our existence but happy to make space to accommodate us for a while. It’s all so impersonal and that’s what I love, the brief respite offered by Nature before returning to our world of wants and needs.
This flash of insight has intensified even further my instinct to simplify my life and continue the process of positive subtraction. I’m jut beginning to realise the enormity of what’s involved in this seemingly simple insight so I’m sure there’ll be many more posts exploring this.