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July 26, 2015

What the Woods Taught Me about How I Treat People.

Author's photo: Amanda Volponi

I was on a “joy walk” on my favorite, wooded path behind my apartment complex in late spring.

I sat on the edge of a cement block, overlooking the running water from a small stream that cuts through, and I noticed there were green plants popping up along the side of the stream. I’ve seen them there every year since I started walking the path.

I had this thought:

Plants emerge naturally after winter. They don’t even have to think about it. We need to get back to that. Reconnecting. We are highly civilized, thinking beings—and for a reason. It’s a gift. Yet, we’ve gone so far on the tipping scale of over-thinking that we’ve lost instinct, unity, grace, surrender, and intuition. We need a balance to become what we were put here for.

That afternoon was an especially beautiful one. I remember it and the serenity that washed over me, while the water skipped and bounced off the rocks below. I felt at peace and at home. I’ve always felt like this in nature and more so when in solitude.

That afternoon, I felt connected to the simplistic, effortless beauty that is earth.

I am often not in-tune with nature—I plan my ego and involve myself in pettiness. I think about myself first, and I unintentionally cause more damage to this place we call home. It’s difficult not to have an impact in a negative way when it takes such little effort.

I endeavor to leave fruitful seeds along the way, but I find it is much easier to do so when I have a true appreciation for earth’s natural ability to sustain life. It just knows what to do, and we make it so hard for earth to keep doing it with such grace and ease.

I sat there, relatively motionless, with sun droplets intimately kissing my bare thighs on that inviting, spring day, when it dawned on me—this is no different than our interactions with others.

Things could be much simpler if we all listened. Succumbed. If we just opened ourselves to the beauty that lay in front of us. But we don’t, typically. Mostly, we trample. We chop down ideas, spray poison all over organically-grown love, and what’s worse—usually we feel very little remorse. Not unlike how we treat the only home we’ll ever have.

Acting with surrender, instead of defensiveness, allows us to be truly human and to have emotional depth and intimacy with others that is actually beneficial not only to ourselves but those around us. What a novel idea, I thought sarcastically. Because, of course, it makes perfect sense. We, as a human race, tend to do things in the most backwards, convoluted ways as possible.

I like these moments of “getting it,” that I achieve amidst my own mental chaos.

It’s nice to be reminded of what is important in life—it’s crucial to the betterment of the world and the people in it. Not stomping on others allows for growth. Intra and inter-personal growth, in turn, leads way to caring, sensitive human beings, who want to think about more than just their Netflix queue or the douche-bag that cut them off at the last light.

We all need more of this in our lives. We need to step outside and reconnect with nature, to see her for what she is—beautiful and our home.

Then we just might come back refreshed and with a renewed sense of wanting to act with love.

Today, I celebrate my ability to understand—to see what is real, and my desire to care for it, nurture it, and most importantly, encourage its development and growth.

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Relephant reads: 

3 Reasons Forest-Walking is Necessary for Every Human Being.

How to Reconnect with Nature, Supply our Own Resources & Rebuild Local Communities.

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Author: Amanda Volponi

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Author’s own.

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Amanda Volponi