Does your life have a soundtrack? I don’t mean, what is your favorite song, or what do you blare on the car radio when the weather is perfect, the windows are down and and you’re feeling euphoric (though those moments are too rare!). I guess I mean, do you see in symphony?
When you’re out for a hike or spending time in nature, are you the type who is content to reach the viewpoint, snap a few photos, and then hasten a quick retreat back down the trail, or do you linger and soak it in? Is there a sort of symphony playing in your mind while your eyes struggle to take in the grandeur before you? Is your trip to nature an energizing activity in a beautiful setting, or is it literally your life’s energy?
I’ve written before about being an empath or highly sensitive person, and a common characteristic is an affinity for nature. In fact, there is a specific type of empath, called an Earth empath, which is described by psychiatrist Judith Orloff this way,
“Earth empaths are a special type of empath who is keenly attuned to the natural world and all of the Earth’s changes. The beauty of a waterfall can exhilarate and energize these empaths, whereas the toxicity of air pollutants can make them feel sick, exhausted, or depressed. How do you know if you are an Earth empath? You are highly sensitive to intuiting the Earth’s changes in your body. Sensually and energetically, you can feel the power of a thunderstorm, the loveliness of the moon, the warmth of the sun on your shoulders. What happens to the Earth is intimately connected to your body.“
As an Earth empath, I have experienced this as both a blessing and a curse. The way I feel nature is both blissful and painful, exhilarating and depressing, especially in these times of climate change. My need to be outside is palpable; I feel like I’m suffocating when I’m stuck inside for too long, and I pace like a caged animal. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to calm my nerves – a walk at a local park, or just stepping outside and gazing at the night sky for a moment, feeling the whisper of wind on my skin will set me right. While my soul might crave mountain grandeur or the rush and spray of a waterfall, any contact with nature will do in a pinch. I have come to understand and honor this about myself, but for me the problem has been, how do I explain it to someone else.
I am not alone in this dilemma. Since humans could put pen to paper, they have struggled to paint pictures within the confines of words. Poets like William Wordsworth who helped launch the Romantic Age in English literature, was, in the words of The Poetry Foundation, “a poet concerned with the human relationship to nature.” His ability to express the majesty of nature in words accessible to the common man is legendary. But alas, I am no poet. I feel nature as poetry, but I am impotent to express it in a way that captures the soaring of my heart.
I recently came across this paragraph by Angela Abraham, and it was like a drink of cold water on a hot day:
“When I am most awake, most present in the moment, every sense of nature converges into a single energetic joy. It is as if there is a feeling passing between each living thing, a bond that is tangible and blended, a melody beyond the range of ears but available for the heart. And so, as each leaf moves in the wind, a part of me does also. It is the togetherness of what is separate, the glue in the universe.” ~Angela Abraham
Yes! That’s what I feel! I think it’s rare to come across another who experiences the world like I do, and it’s always sort of a relief when it happens!
Recently, a customer reached out with a question about the size of an item (something we always encourage you to do, by the way!), and somehow our conversation took a turn to our mutual love of nature, and our connection to it. She writes beautifully and from the heart, and in fact, she created a website to have as an outlet to write about her experiences with nature, science and travel because she is living in a place that makes her feel like a caged bird. She can’t change her surroundings at present, but she can write, and she can indulge her curiosity and appreciation for the natural world. She accompanies her writings with photos of places and things that have touched her in some way, and has created a beautiful space for the expression of those things that would otherwise remain a symphony for one. It was exciting to meet a kindred spirit and to know that when I was describing things, she could meet me more than halfway.
Given the way I’m wired, I often default to keeping my mouth shut about how I’m feeling or experiencing something so I don’t come off as melodramatic or overly emotional. I feel like a pot that is bubbling, the lid is bouncing up and down, but there is no place for the steam to go. I read once that being loved is good, but being heard, or understood is important. I have struggled with the words to make myself understood.
I wrote in one email to that customer,
“I so understood your paragraph about standing on a mountain, taking in a view, and how you experience that. I’m exactly the same way. I remember two years ago being on Mt. Rainier with my daughter on a gorgeous blue sky summer day, with that crisp and refreshing air, crystalline feeling, perfect in every way. We could see for miles, and it seemed every detail was in sharp focus, every sound, the exhilaration of the breeze, everything was perfection. I told my daughter, “I can’t take this all in! I can’t stare hard enough!” It was so hard to cram it all into my soul that was bursting with every emotion, with awe, with wonder. How can you leave that moment? When do you pry yourself away because you’re “done?” I watched the other hikers and I didn’t understand how they could keep moving, have their day at the mountain, take their pictures and then leave? It’s excruciating and wonderful. It’s painful and pure bliss. I leave a part of me and take a part of the mountain.”
She, with the wisdom of one who has come to an understanding of such things, wrote back, “I have found, over time, that it is more about finding the right audience rather than the right words.”
For me, that was what they call an “aha” moment. No matter how you experience nature (and there is no right or wrong way!), may you ever find the right audience, so that your words need no expression. May you stand side-by-side in awe of a mountain’s majesty, or race down a trail together in childlike exuberance. Or maybe you’ll gaze at the infinity of the night sky alone, yet surrounded by a million unseen souls who see the same universe, and feel at peace. However you experience nature, may it bring immense joy, refreshment to your soul, and a full and happy heart!
Tracy Strandness, Owner/Founder