Nature's effect on ourselves
| In her famous diary, Anne Frank wrote about her disagreement with her mother regarding her advice to someone who was melancholic. Her mother would say, “Think of all the misery in the world and be thankful you are not sharing in it!” Anne Frank’s advice is: “Go outside, to the fields, enjoy nature and the sunshine, go out and try to recapture happiness in yourself and in God. Think of all the beauty that’s still left in and around you and be happy!” A sensible advice from a young girl. And to think that she wrote that while she and her family were hiding from the Nazis who were hunting for them and send them to concentration camps. Her affinity with nature gave her happiness in her most difficult situation, and strength to fight for her survival amid the most ferocious oppression that Hitler caused to humankind. She believed in the healing effect that nature has on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Much has been written about nature, its beauty and its miraculous effects on ourselves. Once more, I have to add my voice in extolling the marvels of creation that have been ignored in an alarming degree, especially in this age of technology when many people who are overwhelmed with boredom and loneliness or attacked by depression would turn to electronic stuffs for relaxation and comfort. Some would sit in front of the computer, chatting endlessly with faceless people and playing computer games. Others would frequent karaoke bars and sing or yell out their bitter feelings or show off their “skills” in singing. Still others cuddle in their sofa and watch TV, VCD or DVD all day long. I also heard of others who try to alleviate their depression by going on shopping binges, spending thousands of money for nothing, or hanging around in the malls with all those boom-boom-boom sounds of what is supposed to be a relaxing soft music for the shoppers. So much for those ear-splitting noises that make them more bored and depressed afterward.
Nature, it seems to me, has been pushed in the corner, and appreciation for it has gone down the drain. I know there are still some out there who have retained their elevated mentality by having a close contact with nature, and these are more blessed since they will find nourishment for their weary souls from the tapestry of diverse beauty surrounding them. I for one, derive much strength from drinking in the beauty of nature. I never forget that one morning when I woke up after a restless night and opened my door to look outside, and whoosh!, a gentle breeze came rushing to embrace me and caress my face. I looked around. The sun was hiding behind the clouds but was so generous enough to let its soft brightness and warmth filter through the translucent clouds, which was a promise of a beautiful day. The pines trees, bamboos and the mango tree that have flocked together just outside the huge veranda mirthfully greeted me good morning by gracefully swaying their twigs and melodiously rustling their tiny needles and leaves as if whispering to me, “We’re always here to brighten your day.” Even the couple of birds perching on the twig of the pine tree started to flit about and flirt with each other as if to show me that life is meant to be lived happily. These are just a little piece of the vastness and diversity of what nature has to offer, just the simple things that are within my reach, just outside our apartment. What about those beyond our place, to the mountains, to the endless fields of grains and multi-colored flowers, to the seas and beyond them? What about walking through the scenic byways or exploring off-the-beaten-path places and see the beauty of creations scattered about instead of squeezing ourselves through the thick crowd walking on the sidewalks with all the cacophony and noises of the vehicles? In the place where I stay, in Baguio City, my husband and I would sometimes go for a walk in the woods behind Camp John Hay or down the winding road to Happy Hollow, wandering past several pine trees, bamboos, vegetable plantations and tall grasses, with towering mountains of light blue and emerald green hues meeting our eyes in the distance. And then I would pick up grass flowers along the way and bring them home and put them in the flower vase for me to feast my eyes on for many weeks, and sometimes months. At other times, especially when my husband is under stress and would feel that depression is brewing inside him, we would go down together to San Fernando, La Union and stay overnight in a cozy cottage by the beach. We would have a relaxing dinner and then proceed to the beach at night, sprawl on the plastic lounge stretched out in the sand, facing the star-filled sky. I would let the cool sea breeze massage me while I listen to the musical sound of the waves. The following day, when we’d go back to the mountains, I would have renewed strength to go about my life again.
Another boon that I don’t want to miss is the setting of the sun, which is my afternoon delight. How comforting and heartwarming it is to watch the glowing sunsets that fill the western sky with stunning amber blaze! In the evening, when the sky is clear and the stars are out, I would go stargazing and identify the stars and constellations, and I would feel the invisible stardusts showering down upon me, making me feel like I’m one with the stars in harmonious orbit around the universe. I would borrow somebody’s poetic line in describing what I’m going through on such glorious nights: “My soul has pastured with the stars upon the meadowlands of space.” And while I’m strolling in those meadowlands, I can see the power, wisdom and love of our Creator who made all these things to assure us of his love and the fulfillment of his promises of a wonderful life in the future paradise. And then I would feel lighthearted, all my disquieting thoughts swept away. Calmness would settle in my heart, and I would be able to sleep sweetly and dream about the stars and all those things whose loveliness I drank in.
Indeed, there’s so much in nature that we should take notice of, and we need to train our eyes to look at them, focus on them and admire the way they are made. When circumstances conspire against us, we should not let the fogs gather in our minds or wallow in the deep mire of adversities. Instead, we should turn to nature and let its comforting arms embrace us. We should get close to it, walk on its verdant carpet, smell its fragrance, take delight in its colors, listen to its symphonies, be among the trees and look up to the mountains. And then, just like Anne of Avonlea would say: “We’ll make friends with the wind and sky and sun, and bring home the spring in our hearts.” When spring is always in our hearts, green leaves and colorful blossoms abound therein, leaving no space for unpleasant things. After all, spring is a delightful and refreshing season, nature’s gift to the weary soul.
(Note: I often hear from the foreigners living in the Philippines that malls in their countries have very soft and light music. The malls I mentioned in the second paragraph are Philippine malls where they play loud music in every corner, the effect of which is a babel of noises)