Nature: The Ultimate Alternate Reality

July 07, 2016

The world is in turmoil right now, and I find it very unsettling. Yet I also find it curious that an escape into an alternate reality has taken the world’s attention away from issues that just hours before were being intensely debated. As humans, we seem to be oscillating between fight and flight. Even more curious is how quickly our attention changes. One moment we are vehemently outraged, and the next we are joyfully immersed in animated, child-like escape. Taking both extremes into consideration brings forth a single message — we are literally desperate to feel engaged in somethinganything that is beyond our personal realities. Kind of scary when you think about it. Engagement brings forth an experience of emotion that is beyond the mundane, the routine of everyday life and perhaps even beyond our most fundamental fears. We feel alive, and we feel safer. We also feel a sense of belonging. Careful, careful. Reflect on human history a bit to see what I mean.

Nature: The Great Escape

Nature is my escape, my alternate reality. Driving to my favorite locations feels like traveling through a wormhole. Slowly my thoughts go quiet, and all of my responsibilities and worries are left alongside the road. A peace comes over me that I cannot manage otherwise, even in the seclusion of Santa Fe where there’s always something to think about or do or prepare. Nature ceases the sensory overload, and focuses me in the present. I get lost in my own solitude, and only then can I look within myself and do a little self-inventory. Although the experience is very gratifying, it also alerts me to my discontentment with my reality world. It reminds me just how complicated my life has become. My challenge is to feel grounded amidst the imperfect conditions of the real world, because I cannot always leave my responsibilities, pack up the Jeep and go. Sometimes the best I can do is lose myself in the images that I have created and take a virtual escape into nature. When I connect with the simplicity of nature, I am more accepting of my current situation. My mind is able to open to greater possibilities, and breakthrough moments no longer elude me. Sometimes I come to understand that I need to let go of situations and relationships that simply are not working or embrace the opportunity to face my fears and be imperfect. Other times it means allowing for an unfettered level of self-expression or going beyond the practical and just having some simple, ridiculous fun.

The Limitations Of Human Awareness

A repeating life challenge confronted me this morning. As I watched the sunrise, this article started to unfold in my mind. I recently bought a handy little blue machine as a convenient avenue for releasing my free flow of thought. As life would have it, this wonderful little mechanical companion decided to do an update right when my words were preparing to flow from mind to keyboard. I felt myself grow frustrated and even started talking myself out of the article. Patience is not my strongest quality. I’m always afraid of losing my train of thought, and doing so feels like losing a valuable piece of self-expression, a part of who I am and how I see the world. As I watched the progress bar move at a snail’s pace, I grew more anxious and intentional with the details of the article. I started over-thinking— the absolute death of creativity. The words that came to mind felt forced, and I started to accept that the moment was gone. But then I remembered so many times when I had experienced delayed gratification, and the end result was so much more profound that my original idea. So much greater than I could have imagined. The message grew beyond the original seed, and all I had to do was stay open and understand that life was giving my awareness time to evolve, mature and flourish. I simply had to let it happen naturally and organically. I just had to relinquish control, remain calm and centered, and allow the space for the process to flow on its own. That is the benefit of imperfect conditions — if we just stay open to a greater possibility with peace in our hearts and minds, what unfolds is something that is beyond even our wildest imagination. We must remember that life has unlimited resources, and the human mind, as powerful as it may be, is limited by current knowledge. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. Never accept what life hands you, but also know that the greatest outcome is beyond your control and outside your current awareness.

Nature: The Ultimate Life Coach

As I consider the chaos of human life, I giggle a bit when I look at the Sangre de Christo Mountains from my balcony. I know that somewhere in the alpine forests are deer, bear, birds, elk and a range of other wildlife simply going about their day, not fretting over the events that are unfolding amongst the humans. In fact, the only time the animals even consider humans is when we infringe upon their territory. I imagine a little baby deer next to his mother grazing upon fresh green grasses and playfully teasing a nearby chipmunk. Wildflowers dance in the breeze, speckled with raindrops and sunlight. My attention turns to the antics of the hummingbirds gathered at my feeders for morning nectar. I then remember the many days when I come home from work exhausted and Cassie is belly-up on the bed peacefully sound asleep. I think nature and her animals have this life thing figured out more than we do — live simply. Use every moment and ounce of energy wisely, and savor all that life offers. Life is a very complicated experience for humans. I believe that the complexity enters our journey when expectations are not met, whether it is personally or globally. Whether for the greater good or myopic pursuits. Whether those expectations come from our own personal beliefs or another’s agenda. The truth, though, is that we simply are not satisfied. We are not content, despite all of our efforts, advances and technologies. Our discontentment becomes outrage and fear to the point where we just want to escape the reality around us.

Imperfect Conditions: The Catalyst For Evolution

Conditions are not perfect. In fact, they never are. How we respond to imperfect conditions will determine if we remain ensnared in a fight or flight existence, or if we find a way to evolve and expand our awareness. To what end? Certainly not utopia, but rather to create a place where we feel at rest. A place where we can contribute to this world rather than resist or escape its reality.

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