I returned from living and working on the Reservation at the end of September, and I found myself incredibly anxious. I usually have no trouble readjusting to the East Coast routine and dealing with transition, but this fall felt different. In a very short period of time, I went from the safety and positivity of the garden to an environment where people behaved with an incredible lack of civility toward one another. I was well aware of the vitriol of the current political climate (yes, I do have a connection to and with the outside world, even in the vastness of South Dakota, folks). But to fully feel the tension of the political climate and social circus that seems to be all-consuming was an uncomfortable sensation.
I was and remain unwilling to let the chaos impede on my desire to settle back in the places I call home and my personal happiness. My sense is that most people are getting to or at this point. My solution/therapy? I go to the woods. Not on some lengthy expedition but just quick jaunts into local land trusts or forests. Even a quick look up into the sky or down at your feet, accompanied by a few deep breaths will suffice.
I have been making a concerted effort to admire, embrace, and show gratitude for the beings that do the unrecognized important work. To the mushrooms and fungi that break down the dead and create nutrients for new life. To the leaves and trees that charm us with their color…and, oh, yeah, allow us to breathe clean air. To the pollinators that fly millions of flights and allow us to enjoy the sweetness of honey and the pleasure and luxury of the food we eat.
At first blush, this reflection and realization can be read as a self-important, perspective-of-privilege post. I think about this stuff all the time (perhaps more than I should and, perhaps, one of the reasons that I tend to be anxious), especially in light of my work and events in recent history. But, in a social climate that celebrates maniacal levels of ego, avoids the real issues by magnifying the absurd, and seems to defy logic and basic decency, we need more voices that challenge us to feel more grounded and more connected with the present. Mother Nature tends to be that one entity that reinforces humility and our smallness in this thing called life. Maybe we should be listening to Her more.
Here’s some of what I noticed on a few treks into the woods: