In Other Words. . .

A sanctuary for thinking people.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Random Tid Bit: Get Outside

During the winter months, it is instinct, even for animals, to stay inside and to keep warm. Luckily, I ignored this instinct over the past weekend with the aim of taking a stroll through an undeveloped area behind my house that could very well serve as a park. Because I have a large family and grew up in the suburbs, being totally alone is a rare experience. Being totally alone and surrounded by snow is even more so.

I guess awareness gets kicked up a few notches during isolation. I immediately began to look around more often than I normally would. After walking along the edge of a forest for ten minutes or so, I came to an enormous field. Besides four or so trees, there was nothing. I had a brief feeling of being in danger, though I was obviously not. Many trees lost branches or had fallen entirely from last year's "Snowmageddon" snowstorm. Walking past these felled trees was quite surreal. The eerie stillness all 'round only contributed. I suppose I was feeling the a sense of death. We all know that trees are "alive" in a sense, but that is difficult to feel when they are so common. But to see such a huge mass uprooted and rotting into the forest, that is when it seems most like a living thing. To imagine yourself next to any being of incredible size can be terribly intimidating. It is the feeling of being a helpless insect in a world that is not your own.

A short while later I came upon a strange tree in a corner of that same field. Around it were countless vines and nets of twigs, and in the center were several large branches bent at sinister angles and reaching outward. Some were only inches from the ground. I instantly pictured the structure as a nightmarish spider. Even in broad daylight, its surrounding brush gave it the appearance of a creature waiting in the jungle at night, all the while staring out at you.

Throughout the walk I was taking pictures left and right, as a tourist might while driving down the Vegas strip. It was exciting. My little trek made me think of the great explorers who really were seeing everything for the first time. But this thrill was accompanied by the longing for comfort. It must be a modern quirk to want to be home again so quickly.

To tie the knot of this simple and random tale, I highly recommend going outside. No, I do not mean shopping or sledding in the backyard (if you still do). Go out to some place where you can truly be alone. Even if it is only a city park, the biting winter air does good, if not only to spur a greater appreciation of a heated home. I am not an environmentalist in the popular sense. Yes, nature is an incredible gift and should be treated as such, but human life is also quite amazing and should not be disregarded for the sake of excessive preservation. But nature is an undeniable part of our very core. If we lose sight of that reality, we lose part of ourselves.