I gently rock back and forth to the tune of the slurping river Mur as it swishes its way amongst the rocks and the ducks beside me. My hammock, slung between two perfectly distanced trees, is of a breathable material; the caressing wind nudging into the pores of the fabric and hugging my naked wiggling toes in blissful circulation.
From my 270-degree window I see life. In every form. The perfection of varying green hues that spring forth from the thickly ribbed trees aligning the river cannot seem to lie still; the inactivity of winter gives yield to a bursting of dancing. I see brightly flocked and dully matted birds alike, the dull giving forth an echoing of song far superior.
All things smell whole. Full. Ripe. It is the smell of potential and of motion. The warm loving breeze whispers an aura of cleanliness with its presence. My coconut-husked curls, rather uneven and a bit choppy for want of a good haircut, tosses about my ears and neck in such a manner as to render any imperfections unintelligible.
My belly is full with the fruit of a ripe avocado sprinkled with lemonpepper, the gentle swing of the hammock giving rhythm to internal digestion.
And the sun swims along my bare arms–joyously exposed to the air for the first time after the brisker temperatures of the Highlands–I feel that delicious awakening of all the senses that happens when one is so shrouded amongst Nature.
“I am a lover of uncontained and immortal beauty.”
I learned…caverns, these past couple of weeks. About love. About humanity. About the world and my role in it. And much of this learning has remained relatively unknown to me, due to surface in the next couple of days, weeks, months: whenever the situation calls.
Perhaps my greatest known lesson was concerning stillness.
I spent…hours…in the sweeping mossy green of the Scottish Highlands.
Sometimes I would have a Newfoundland with me, and we would sit together on the soft spongy green, her sitting profoundly still as I ran a steel brush rhythmically through her thick black coat.
I would talk, sometimes.
She would tilt her head back towards me and bring her deep black eyes to meet mine to indicate she was listening. Together we exposed problems and insecurities and immaturitues. Together we blessed the trees and each other.
Once I was taking Daisy for a walk.
We had been moseying along for quite a significant amount of time at a slow melodious jaunt, as Daisy’s massive quantity of size caused our walks together to be methodical. I noticed a few yawns coming from her end every now and then and directed us past a thicket of knobby trees into this beautiful vast meadow of sunlight moss.
As I pulled the steel dog comb from my pocket, she obediently sat her hind legs down. For a few pulls, I stroked through her thick coat with the comb.
Suddenly, in the stillness and the silence, I found myself wholly undistracted to the peace that was emulating–oozing–from the Nature in which we were surrounded. In this profound clarity of momentous divinity, I placed the comb back in my pocket.
I snuggled down upon the moss and the earthen floor, curling an arm underneath my neck as a sort of pillow. Daisy moved almost in unison, tucking her front legs down and resting her massive furry head right in front of mine. She gingerly placed one warm front paw on my back, in a manner so noteworthy of love and friendship that could write notebooks of poetry.
In the peace and stillness we fell asleep against each other, her soft snoring the metronome for the curious birds.
I’m sure it would have been a bizarre sight for the passerby. The image of a girl and a bear cuddled up together fearlessly in the middle of the forest.
“The poet finds something rediculous in his delight until he is out of the sight of men.”
Every day I would run the country roads that wound up and down hillsides, past grazing sheep in meadows exploding with yellow flowers, above the lapping black waters of the firth. Sometimes listening to podcasts. Sometimes listening to the breeze.
After my run, the blood still coursing freshly through my blissfully receptive muscles, I would tuck myself into the thicket of trees that stood just behind the house. There, the safety of the trees blocked all sights and sounds of the road beyond, and here again existed this perfect stillness.
Sometimes I would lay on my back and rest my feet against the trunk, feeling the circulation of blood through my body. I would stare at the fluffy clouds that dotted the azure sky, the silhouettes of the branches against the sun remaining long after I closed my eyes.
Here again. Stillness. Palpable peace surging from every fiber of the Nature that surrounded me.
This habit of spending so much time in the one place where truly God and humanity coincide continuously hands me a white blank page on which to begin again. In such isolated I am wholly Josie: neither alone nor lonely.
My life, I believe every life, is filled with these moments of…earthly reincarnation.
“His intercourse with heaven and earth becomes part of his daily food. In the presence of nature a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrow.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson claims, to quote directly: “The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is because man is disunited with himself”.
The vibrations of Nature and all that it provides–the peace, serenity, hope–are enough to patch us up from the inside. It takes a bit of vulnerability. Of allowing ourselves to be in isolation. To get away from the manmade things that do not matter and only serve to divide us further from the truth of our own Nature.
It doesn’t require fearlessness on our end, fear is indication of something that needs to be examined further and it should stop being so…masked. Shameful.
“The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.”
Peace and Blessings,
P.S. all of the quotes are taken from the absolutely marvelous Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson. If I could recommend anything, it would be taking that short novel into the woods somewhere, completely alone, and seeing what happens.