“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~ Lao Tze
I’ve been dragging my feet. Through mud puddles, and snow, and howling, bitter winds, begrudgingly forcing myself outside during the month of April (it was supposed to be Spring, no?) to find inspiration for this month’s newsletter on Nature. As I sit here writing now, I couldn’t feel more like a fraud.
As a west coast girl (born and raised in Vancouver), I grew up in nature. Behind the house I grew up in, there was a massive field with actual horses you could feed (not ours), bunnies, birds, trails, puddles so big they made frozen ponds to slide on in the winter, and blackberry bushes in the summer with ample fruit for everyone to enjoy. Rain never stopped me and snow only excited me (hey this was Vancouver, it didn’t happen very often!). And summer days on the west coast? Well, those were just perfection. There were mountains to climb, beaches to comb, and rivers to run along, all in a day’s play. Nature was so ingrained in my lifestyle I didn’t realize how essential it was to my well being, until my natural surroundings, and easy access to wide open spaces changed drastically.
This change happened twice for me. Once when I first moved to the big city of Toronto in my early 30s, and the second this past month living with the arrival of the novel coronavirus. When I moved to Toronto initially, it wasn’t love at first sight. I felt an unrest. I felt like everyone looked unhappy (though it turns out it was me who was unhappy). I was lucky enough to land in Roncesvalles, with close access to High Park and the Lake, but not grateful enough for those encounters with nature to stop lamenting what I had lost in Vancouver. It took time, awareness and exploration by bike to find nature peppered throughout the city. But it took meditation to realize I could be equally happy in a city park as I was on the North Shore Mountains. Through meditation and yoga I also realized how integral spending time in Nature was for me to stay physically and mentally healthy.
Fast forward a couple years to 2020 and the arrival of Covid -19. The new life circumstances of living during a pandemic under self isolation and social distancing rules meant that those parks, lake trails, and little pieces of nature that became my salvation were no longer available. And to top it off, I now had a 20 month old in tow with me now who loved nothing more than about 100 goes down a slide in a playground, all of which were now closed. I was (like everybody else in the world) essentially under lockdown. Sure, we can go for walks, but a 20 month old doesn’t make it very far. So my world became even smaller, and much more climate controlled. I stayed mostly inside for the month of April, perhaps more than I ever have in my life.
My own well being began to suffer. I felt like I was living in the movie Groundhog Day. Every day the same, barely spending any time outside. Rinse and repeat. But the one thing I could do – very easily now with all this time indoors at home – was meditate. I went to my cushion for my regular sit as soon as my daughter napped. I came back to it again in the evening. And sometimes even for a third sit before bedtime. Then something strange happened. I began to feel a sense of expansiveness, like I was once again standing on those North Shore Mountains. I began to feel creatively inspired. I began to feel, dare I say it, almost happy.
In this challenging month I realized that the nature outdoors is a part of our own true nature. Even though I felt at times as though I was separated from it, each time I returned to my cushion I was connecting to that true nature, and tuning into the flow of the universe. The more I sat, the more I took joy in our little walks around the block, or jumping in the smallest puddle on our driveway. The more I sat, the less I needed the grandeur of the west coast mountains, and the more comfort I found in the small signs of early spring around the neighbourhood. A dandelion here and there, buds on trees, birds digging up worms… even those little tiny flies that are everywhere right now have become a welcome sight!
From the tiny sprouts of flowers in the ground, a tiny bit of hope started to sprout in me. Hope that parks and outdoor spaces will reopen. Hope that I will see my family on the west coast soon. Hope that we will be able to sit together in community again. And hope that this pandemic will one day come to an end.
In the meantime, we hope you’ll join us online for the month of May as we explore nature from our inside worlds. Check out the lineup for the month and connect with the CEC Community on Zoom!