I had an epiphany at Lake Chelan this summer, where I was lucky enough to stay at my friend Donna's lakefront house. For three days we did little more than sit outside on these big puffy chairs with our eyes peering over our books and watch the boats zoom back and forth and stare at the wheaty-gold hills undulating across the lake (which, incidentally is over 50 miles long!).
"Good god that's beautiful," I said turning my head to Donna, as if I was letting her in on something.
"I know," she nodded back.
Morning, noon and night we sat there and watched the light change from the bouncy-bright morning rays of intensity to the warm afternoon glow and the sparkly blue of dusk.
"Do you get the feeling that the hills are happy we're looking at them?" I asked Donna on the third day.
"Yes, I do," she answered.
I saw the hills wink at me
After staring for so many hours I saw it. Nature needs us. Not just to save it, but to look at it. Not just to be out in it, hiking or boating or running, biking or hot air ballooning. Nature wants us to put everything down and just goddamn look and look and look at it in a full-blown heart-outside-the-body witnessing. Like sitting for three days staring and staring and "oh-wow-ing" our faces off.
Nature wants us to put our phones down, quiet our busy minds, and just give it our attention.
BECAUSE IT'S SO GODDAMN BEAUTIFUL
It's what we were created to do. Marveling at nature is one of the greatest joys of being here. Humans are meant to sit on the side of a stream and do nothing but stare at the trees jutting out of the wet soil and marvel at the bark patterns and the pinks in the river rock (and maybe catch a fish dinner).
So when the world gets you down, get outside and do yourself and nature a favor: Look at it. Look at it reverently. Find a place where you have a nice view: a beach side park, a park bench, a piece of lawn, your doorstep or right beside your favorite tree, and do nothing but look and watch and witness.
Do it until you can see the natural world brimming with happiness that it's being watched, like a shy child waltzing across the stage of a school play, coyly blushing at being seen.
Then, go outside again and imagine that the trees and flowers and bushes and lakes and mountains and oceans and hills and desert cacti are all feeling happier at being seen.
It feels really . . . strange and cool and GOOD.
Do it until you feel better. Then go out and do it again. And again.
You never know what you might see.
This month is dedicated to Feeling Better in a Troubled World: Simple ways you can catch a breath and remember a bit of beauty when the news is getting you down. If you want to talk more about feeling better in troubled times, email me for a conversation at firstname.lastname@example.org . There's no need to feel alone! XO