A fallen flower gives a message of hope
Following my ‘holiday blog’ within the context of the ongoing pandemic, now feels a good time to continue exploring the pathway of hope. This post is for anyone who is continuing to struggle in regaining their positive sense of mental health and well-being that flew out the window months ago. Today’s theme is quite simple. In fact, why don’t you stop what you’re doing, walk to your front or back door, open it right up and be witness to what is present right outside your own front or back steps.
Grand and all mighty, nature is an underrated and powerful resource. Better still, it’s free and is all around us. Lucky for us, it’s something we can all use as a positive influence on how we feel, how our day is travelling or what kind of mood we’re in. If your mind works like mine, you may spend a lot of time deep in thought. Thinking, analysing, and evaluating within your mind, repeatedly. Let’s face it, this sort of thinking does tend to get a little exhausting and finding a way to escape an overactive mind can be a relief. Getting among nature has helped me to slow and distract my thoughts completely. That simple. Just like me, this may be what you need to slow unhelpful thoughts and restore inner quietness.
I have recently discovered that nature is an essential and positive means for distracting myself from persistent thoughts. Getting outside, to the nearest park or lake may seem mundane, yet can have considerable influence, transforming feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress to ones of greater balance, rational thinking, and calmness. Nature is an essential advocate for our bodies and its fresh and revitalising qualities, can contribute greatly to the improved function of our overall physical health.
When I find myself in an undesirable situation, such as being unable to spend enough time outside, the difference in my persona is greatly noticeable. I become grumpy, irritable, and sluggish; all in a short amount of time. Getting among nature, to stop and take notice of all that surrounds me, has become an integral part of my treatment plan, in addition to food and exercise, and all are non-negotiable. Even more beneficial for my well-being is my camera which I can use to capture my observations. This allows me to look back, remember and be proud of the work I have done. I always am a much better frame of mind after a day outdoors, snapping away with my camera.
The lonely flower
Just the other day whilst out walking home, I stumbled across an amazingly preserved top from a flower that had fallen from a tree that once served as its life source. Somehow, the flower top managed to catch my eye from across the road. Curious to take a closer look, I crossed the road to discover a beautiful, vibrant pink flower top. It was sitting perfectly upright, alone, and somewhat out of place on the dull footpath. It didn’t belong where it had fallen, a sad sight for one of nature’s little flowers. Maybe it was waiting in hope for the right person to walk on by? Maybe it had been waiting for me? Without a second thought, I scooped this flower top into my cold, bare hands. I was taking it with me to the warmth of my home. I would capture this radiant flower before it dried up, became shrivelled and lost the intense shade of pink that had caught my eye. Now that I had found it, this flower top wouldn’t go unnoticed.
A weekend trip to a beautiful beach or an adventure walking through the lush green forest (with my camera) is enough to ignite an inner sense of excitement and an abundance of warm, fuzzy feelings that no medication or meditation can match. A heightened sense of happiness and inner peace runs through my body, enriching me with is positive energy and motivation. If I’m having a horrible day, some time outdoors to explore and capture is all I need to bring me back to a sense of level-headedness and reasonable thought. It’s beautiful, so simple, and accessible to everyone. I haven’t always been so aware of the world around me. Once upon a time, a walk down that same street or road would have looked significantly different. With my eyes not deviating from a straightforward glance, I would not have noticed that lone, bright pink flower that sitting sadly alone across the road on this particular cold and dreary day. Even if that flower had caught my eye, I would not have crossed the road to take a closer look I’d have ignored it and walked on.
For all of this, I remain humbled and grateful for the gift, a camera, received on Mother’s Day 2019. This camera has helped me to open my eyes and see the real world. I’m lucky, I feel enriched and I can’t wait to explore more of the many local destinations.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 will continue to be devastating on a global scale. For people like myself, the virus and the reality of being cut off from the natural world has presented many challenges and internal arguments; would it be ok to take a walk along the beach or would this be considered breaking the rules? It’s a tricky situation to navigate and a little creativity may be to find that source of nature that is accessible. Suddenly cut off from the many sources of wider experiences we have taken granted, we are left with minimal choices to explore. Where previously we had bush hikes, oceanside towns, beautiful gardens, and architecture, we’re left with the park, an oval, the footpath surrounded by flowers, our own back yard. It’s not the ideal trade-off, yet it is one component that makes up our natural surroundings; we may as well take full advantage of it.
Next time you venture out for your daily walk, don’t just make it about the walk. Try to appreciate the flowers you see, the vitality in their colour and the floral aroma they infuse into the fresh air. Look up into the sky (one of my favourite parts to look at), notice the formation of the clouds. Are they fluffy like cushions, streaky, dark rain clouds or barely even visible? What about the trees? Are they fully grown, or with only a few leaves? Also, take note of the colours and textures those leaves bestow. What about something as simple as the front fences of local homes? While they’re not directly a part of nature, they play a big part in how nature is presented. I’ve seen some beautiful fence structures; I’ve also witnessed some vivid shadows reflecting on those fences.
While our lives have been almost brought to a standstill, the outside world has continued to bloom, grow, and flourish. Trees are returning to their fuller selves following the yearly autumn shedding of leaves, the grass is green, and the bees have been busy doing their job, pollinating the many flowers. So, if reassurance is what you need, look outside your home. Nature’s world continues to tick along. Nature is acting as it should be and will be ready for us once we have the freedom to fully re-enter the world. In the meantime, we just need to act with caution.
For those of us willing to open ourselves up to a new way of viewing the world, COVID-19 has presented a valuable gift, a gift I received last year. The gift of perspective and an appreciation for nature, the immediate world, and an enriched appreciation for mankind. Just 18 months ago, when I had no idea what life held for me, the gift of a camera transformed and changed the way I viewed the world. My eyes suddenly opened to everything that had always been there, yet I had been unable to appreciate. A camera gave me the eyes to emerge from this deep dark place and notice this lonely yet beautiful flower sitting on the side of the road.
With my newfound appreciation for everything outside of my front door, being shut inside the confines of my home has been difficult. I’ve felt the impact mentally and emotionally and often find myself dreaming for the day when I can get into my car and drive to whatever destination captures my attention. Nature has become an essential component of my on-going wellbeing.
Take home message
Nature lives around us; lack of accessibility isn’t an excuse. Likewise, no access to a camera is not relevant considering the technology sitting on our mobile devices these days. Get out and go for a walk, take your phone, and look for anything you wouldn’t normally see. It may be a plant in a garden you frequently walk past but failed to see. Capture it with your phone, document your time spent in isolation, create something with it and before you know it, you’ll be back in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, looking longingly back at those days when you were stuck at home.