Editor’s note: the original version of this post was first published in 2010.
I walk through a little dirt pathway, hugged on either side by bright green grass. There are trees all around that seem to greet me in their silence. The little stream whispers, “Hello.” A leaf or two can be seen falling to the ground, with the power and grace of any Olympic diver. There, in this sacred place, you feel yourself embraced by a cool, tender brush of mountain wind. There, you can almost swear the branches are speaking to you in a language all their own. There, you are almost certain that a squirrel, who freezes just underneath the sunlight as you approach, is reminding you of something you forgot. (That living occurs in the moment.)
There are rocks that remind you to be grounded, and birds that remind you to sing. There is this perfect little place, too. A great tree, with a branch hanging over a stream, a branch that is long enough, thick enough, and low enough for you to climb on, and use as a place to take a seat.
This “natural seat” is my favorite stop on my hike. I climb this great tree, rest my bottom across this branch over the little stream, and when I turn around, a view opens up to me, like a dream. There are bushes, and living things crawling nearby, and a wonderful silence. A holy silence. The sunlight is purer here, so is the air. Something can make its way through here. Here, inspiration can flow more freely, and can arrive where it needs to arrive, in my head.
I am a writer after all, and for a writer, the best place to create is the place where all things are created. Nature.
Why is it that, whenever I find myself despairing, when my head is filled with worry, when not a single new idea comes to me, that a nice long hike in the mountains does the trick? What’s hidden there among the leaves, and the bark, and the water, and the sweet, brown dirt? There, as I sit on that branch overlooking that stream, I swat a fly away from my face, and at the same time, I am swiping away all that worries me. Why, when I leave that seat, and continue to climb up and up the grooves of that mountain, I grow stronger? Why is it that as I near the top, I feel more connected, more whole, more at peace, more like me? Why is it when I finally reach the end of my hike, and gaze at the tremendous waterfall, that gushes and spurts, and sways, and lands there only three feet away, that my courage returns to me?
The courage to create? To write? To imagine a world so much better than this one?
Here, as I hike among the mountains, all trouble falls away, and something more powerful, wiser, and more ancient takes its place.
The natural world is vital to an author. It is vital to every artist, in fact. Without it, it is harder to create. It is harder to thrive and move forward. Let us keep these natural places sacred, and let us visit them often to remind ourselves why they are sacred. Because there, in that river, in that squirrel, in that tree, is the womb of our dreams and our imagination.
Nature feeds life, yes, but—let us not forget—nature also feeds our dreams. Let us feed that which feeds our dreams, then, and not lay it to waste, but bring it to use.
much “green writer,”
Go feed your dreams this weekend by visiting your local nature park. To learn more about the best places to hike near you, click here.
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