Nature, Beauty and Our Humanity

View of a sea of clouds from an airplane windowAs I stared out the airplane window at a sea of white cumulus clouds, I saw a hint of small snowflake-like ice crystals on the small window. Smiling at the sight, I reflected on how magical nature is and how key it was to the two weeks I had just spent by myself in Sedona, Arizona.

Swirling through my mind were all the people I met, the conversations shared and the revelations about nature, beauty and how we humans fit (or might no longer fit) into the grander scheme here on planet Earth.

Adventures with Nature and Beauty

Arriving somewhere alone is an invitation. An invitation to open to encounters you might miss if you have the security of even one other person with you. Sedona has special memories for me, as I wrote my book Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie there. This year, random interactions with strangers often led me on adventures I could never have imagined. Adventures of the kind I enjoy most. Person-to-person, sharing ideas and perspectives while surrounded by the majestic beauty of the natural world around me.

It’s inescapable in Sedona. Nature’s beauty is everywhere you look and everywhere you go. It reminds me of how people have immersed themselves in nature with the intention of losing themselves. What most often happens is somehow one finds themselves instead. Nature has a way of doing that. As I’ve written before, I believe nature is our greatest teacher, teaching about ourselves and the world around us.

Nature — a Metaphor for Life

Nature is a metaphor for life. Each experience in nature has can reflect back to us something about our lives. “] I agree. While hiking alone, I realized that I was being offered the opportunity to truly experience being in the moment. If I drifted, one misstep could prove dangerous.

Each experience in nature reflects back to us something about our own life. #nature #lifeClick To Tweet

In our day-to-day lives it isn’t always easy to accomplish. It’s so easy to rush from one thing to the next, rarely stopping to truly experience each moment. Nature asks us to stop, look and engage with the world around us. To marvel at nature’s infinite intelligence and wisdom. At nature’s pace, not ours.

It reminded me of a Lao Tzu quote. “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” A powerful lesson from nature for us humans. Sierra Club founder and naturalist John Muir always shared great wisdom about nature. “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”  Is this as true for you as it is for me?

It’s amazing how writers, artists, photographers, philosophers, scientists and creatives throughout the ages have recognized the power of nature to heal us, to teach us, to inspire us, and change us in some way after every encounter we have with it. As Einstein said: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Indeed.

Beautiful nature scene, mountains and blue skyExperiencing Versus Consuming Nature

On the day I was hiking with a friend, we were descending slowly through an uneven trail of rocks to a bubbling creek below us, absorbing the elements we encountered. We stepped aside to let a youngish man who seemed in a hurry pass us. We continued our mindful walk and conversation, and within what seemed like moments, the same man was on his way back up. Still in a hurry. I casually said something about how quickly he’d finished. He said “Yeah. I took a few pictures. It was nice. Been there, done that.”

That made me think how people hurry through life as consumers of everything. Consumers of products, consumers of other people, consumers of nature. It was an interesting idea a young adventure guide had shared, compliments of someone he admired, radical environmentalist Derrick Jensen. How people are consuming nature the way they consume everything else in their lives. Think about that for a moment. Our ongoing belief that the economy is a living thing, literally has us collectively consuming nature, often to humanity’s detriment.

People hurry through life as consumers of everything: of products, people & of nature. #natureClick To Tweet

Maybe it’s why humans have become so disconnected from the natural world, flocking to oceans and mountains on holidays, either consciously or unconsciously, craving an experience with the natural world. Seeking to connect with its power and beauty. It fascinates me how on each trip to Sedona (this was my 11th yearly trip), I meet people from around the world. People who’ve come specifically because of the incredible natural beauty and hiking trails. People from England, Amsterdam, Australia, Japan and every other place imaginable.

Collecting Experiences, Not Things

In my conversation with the adventure guide, we also talked about how younger generations are less desiring of collecting things, leaving some marketers with a dilemma. It seems young people, and older people too, value experiences now more than things. A study about millennials sponsored by Eventbrite reported:

“…this generation not only highly values experiences, but they are increasingly spending time and money on them: from concerts and social events to athletic pursuits, to cultural experiences and events of all kinds. For this group, happiness isn’t as focused on possessions or career status. Living a meaningful, happy life is about creating, sharing and capturing memories earned through experiences that span the spectrum of life’s opportunities.”

Even though I’m far from being a millennial, this is true for me too. Simply put, people of all ages are spending money on experiences. Not things. And science shows you’ll be healthier and happier for it.

People are spending money on experiences, not things. We're healthier & happier for it! #healthClick To Tweet

How Does Nature Make You Feel?

Seeing the elegant postures of dead trees or pieces of tree bark lying on the ground to decay reminded me that even in death and dying, there is a natural order and beauty to nature. I kept thinking how nature has survived and will continue to survive in spite of us humans.

In the challenging times we currently live, a time of extremes of nature we see with “super”-hurricanes, floods and fires, one wonders if we can change the conversation — change our behaviour to the kind that reveres and respects nature versus how nature can contribute to the economy. Will we humans learn the ultimate lesson about living in harmony and co-operation with the natural world?

“How do you feel when you spend time in nature?” Of the people I’ve asked, the answer always includes words like, “inspired, in awe, re-energized, renewed, invigorated, connected, healed.” What words would you answer if asked how nature makes you feel? My hope is that more people will consciously spend quality time in nature and take a stand for preserving it for ourselves and for the generations to come.Person walking in nature, receiving its gifts

This post originally appeared as “We Need to Consciously Spend More Quality Time in Nature” on the Huffington Post, on October 23, 2017.

Beverley Golden

About Beverley Golden

Beverley Golden is a writer, storyteller, peacenik and health & vitality consultant, who loves testing unconventional ways to shift paradigms in the playing fields of health and wellness, storytelling and creativity as a path to world peace. Her passion is turning the “impossible” into the possible, using her own experiences with a lifetime of health issues, to inspire and support others to live their life to the fullest.

You're invited to a Complimentary Health Consultation, starting with the True Health Assessment that offers a customized personalized snapshot of how healthy you are in the areas of lifestyle, heredity and nutrition. Contact me to get started!

30 Comments

  • vikash says:

    I love the peaceful vibe from this blog post! It really makes you sit back Thanks for sharing

    • Thanks so much Vikash! Happy this post gave you a peaceful feeling and a moment to sit back and relax.

  • Teresa Salhi says:

    As an adult I have learned to really appreciate nature and what it does to enrich our lives and our spiritual souls. Although there has been much disconnection from our humanity, I see our future getting brighter. Thank you for so much insight and inspiration.

    • I feel very much the same way, Teresa. My love for nature and my desire to spend time in it, has grown as I have gotten older. I also believe that more people are reconnecting with nature and are making nature a conscious part of our daily lives. Thanks for your kind words for this piece as well.

  • Hi Beverley, this is a beautiful piece. Nature makes me feel good. It is a source of inspiration and reflection too. I love walking in the wee hours of the morning and get the fresh air from the woods. It`s a feeling I cannot describe yet it’s so powerful.

    • Thank you so much Apolline! I am delighted to hear that you also love spending time in nature. Walking is my favourite way as well, although I don’t get out as early as you do. It’s also great to not have words for it, as I believe it can be a unique experience to us that is sometimes beyond words.

  • angie says:

    what a great thing it is to get out and enjoy nature. I truly love the feeling of being out in the open. Our family tries to get out once or twice a week
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    • I completely agree with you about spending time in nature, Angie! It’s great to hear your family makes it a point to spend time in nature as often as possible too. Enjoy!

  • I love the peaceful vibe from this blog post! It really makes you sit back and think and somehow relax you as you read! You have a way with words! Beautifully written!

    • Thank you so much Rachael! I am delighted to hear this post brought a peaceful vibe to you while reading it. I also appreciate your kind words about my writing!

  • Nature has always had the same calming effect on me. I think we should make time to become one with nature whenever possible.

    • I am 100% with you on more people spending more time in nature. The healing and calming benefits are undeniable for us all.

  • Jhumki Nag says:

    I always love to be in between nature. So lovely written and love your thoughts.

    • Thanks so much Jhumki, as I appreciate hearing that you enjoyed this post about the benefits of nature and that you experience it in your life too.

  • Alene A Geed says:

    i feel calmer after reading this post, Beverley. I was right there with you when you began to describe your feelings about nature. Einstein did say it best when he asked us to look into nature to find the answers. Collecting experiences and not things is how I choose to live as well. There have been times in my life when I was more focused on the accomplishment and not the moment. As I have aged, I realize the value in slowing down, looking around me and appreciating nature.

    • What a lovely thing to say, Alene and of course I am happy to hear this post and you feel calmer by reading it. I agree with you that Einstein did say it best and how for those of us who find our answers in nature, it really speaks the truth. Happy to hear you are also collecting experiences now and are less interested in collecting things. And like you, as I’ve aged, somehow my awe and wonder for nature have deepened and I have slowed down and become a passionate advocate for our natural world.

  • Eileen says:

    Hi Beverley! I truly enjoyed reading this article. Right now, all I want to do is to go to a secluded beach. My chances of going out or traveling has been so restricted due to responsibilities at home, at work and issues with my health and that of my husband’s too. I truly wish that my childhood dream of living in a cabin near the ocean would come true someday. I could wake up to a beautiful view of the ocean, live simply, enjoy viewing the sunsets and marvel at the vast expanse of the night sky. However, for now, it is just a dream. 🙁

    • I really feel your love and passion for the ocean and the beach, Eileen! It sounds like you have a very long-standing dream that includes living life communing with nature. Even though it isn’t a possibility for you now, I hope someday, your health might even lead you to that cabin near the ocean where you enjoy the majesty of the sunsets with the beach near by.

  • Susan Stith says:

    Nature invigorates me like nothing else! And in this I include the evening skies. Every night I chat with those who have passed away, and who look down on me as stars. Thank you for this wonderful uplifting article Beverley.

    • What a beautiful way to honour those you love who have passed away, Susan! I cannot imagine a more spiritual way to engage with the heavenly skies and stars above us. I really appreciate hearing you enjoyed this article about one of my passions, nature!

  • Beverley, this article is so powerful. You know how much I love Sedona, too. I really, really love and appreciate nature. When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I intuitively went outside in my back yard and laid down on the ground and visualized mother earth healing me. Then, I hugged the biggest tree in my yard and felt so connected with nature. When I’m in nature, I feel more connected to myself, more balanced and in awe of the beauty around us. Every tree, every leaf, every flower… has a divine purpose. Thank you for sharing this beautiful article and reminding us that there is beauty all around us.

    I love the plane and cumulus cloud pictures. This viewpoint from the air reminds me that we don’t always see the big picture and there is always a different and larger vantage point.

    • Thank you so much for your support and your kind words, Tandy! It’s amazing how we do know how powerful our connection to nature is, and yet sometimes we forget in our day-to-day lives to be conscious of that. So often it is an illness or a challenge in our lives, that calls us back to nature. I love how you describe how you feel when you spend time in nature and how its beauty impacts you. I feel the same way. Sometimes it is beyond words, isn’t it? You’re welcome for the reminder too. 🙂

      That was a spontaneous photo I took on the way home from Arizona, so I appreciate that it had such a powerful meaning for you. Yes, sometimes we do need a new and larger vantage point to see the bigger picture. I would say, as someone who loves the bigger picture, maybe that is how I regularly see the world. xo

  • Liz Mays says:

    It does seem like we’re becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world. It’s hard to understand the impact we have on the world when we’re so disconnected from it.

    • I agree with you Liz. We humans are caught up in the online world and sometimes we forget to get out and connect with the natural world. Communing with nature truly contributes to our health and happiness too!

  • Jaime says:

    We’ve been working with our son to value experiences over things. We can get so consumed with stuff that we forget about all of the wonders of nature around us. He loves getting outdoors, and this past year we’ve started hiking with him more – and he really appreciates that.

    • It’s beautiful to hear that you have been instilling in your son, why valuing experiences over things is a healthier way to live, Jaimie. Hiking is such a wonderful way to both exercise and commune with the natural world around us. Hopefully your son will carry these experiences forward with him as he grows and will share his experiences with others. Wonderful way to influence future generations.

  • I am all about getting out into nature. Too many of us spend all day cooped up inside, missing the beauty of the natural world.

    • So true Heather! I feel so many of us are spending time both indoors and even when we are outside, our focus is often on devices, vs. the natural world around us. Nature has so much to offer us humans, if we take the time to really engage with it.

  • robin rue says:

    Nature truly is an amazing thing. Sometimes I like to just go out for a walk and enjoy everything around me. It’s amazing what’s out there if you just take the time to stop and look.

    • I completely agree with you Robin! When we stop and spend time in nature, I believe there is an awakening to the world around us, in new ways!

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