January 26, 2016

A Remedy for the Regular Unhappiness of Being Human.

greg westfall/Flickr

I have those weeks too, when what I am doing just doesn’t seem to add up to enough.

When I try to balance my work, love, family, spirituality, exercise, nature time and social life, and it all just doesn’t fit.

I fall short of what I think I should be or could be and I get in a bit of a sour mood.

I start to suspect that others have it easier or deal with what they have better. I see a friend for coffee and she seems to be able to smile brighter then I do or I wake up in the morning, still tired from the week before.

I think, how am I going to do it all?

But, the thing is, I do. We do. We get up and we do it all, again.

I got up this morning, made a cup of hot water and sat. It is mid-week and I’m wondering how I’m going to juggle everything to make it to Friday. I feel a little overwhelmed and I get this quick flash of insight that it might just be best if I quit and run away, skip off into some beautiful green forest somewhere.

I imagine having a log cabin in the woods, making home-spun clothes and drinking locally-collected root and berry teas. And all I would hear is birds chirping…

And then I take a deep breath in,

and I look around,

and I am still here.

I am living in the city.

I am living downtown.

I am sitting on a couch in a third-story brick apartment.

In a few hours I will leave for school and then come home and start work. My partner will wake up soon and make coffee for us. I will exercise quickly and eat my breakfast as I walk out the front door.

This is my human life.

But sometimes—and I am not exactly sure why—it feels like too much. I want to close my eyes and be someplace more simple. I want this human body to rest for endless hours on some sandy and remote beach, where tiny little white pebbles make imprints on the back of my naked thighs and the sun brings out a hundred new freckles on my Anglo-Saxon face. I want no schedule, no watch and no phone.

For I think I am missing the touch of the wild.

The brushing up against my skin of something raw and untamed.

The sound of a wave curling and then of the next and the next and the one after that.

The smell of a forest floor and the cushion of layers of decomposing pine needles.

The feeling of them cracking under my feet as I walk steadily on,

and the knowing that I am headed nowhere but someplace free,



Someplace rubbed so clean by air, waves and coastal breeze

that it shines.

This is what I am craving:

the cleanliness of re-birth,

of letting nature sand me down,

scrubbing away all the no-longer-needed flesh and memories.

Accept right now,

I have this city

and I have this schedule,

and I have ever so humanly stuck myself in both.

And for right now this is my home.

So I decide to take my renewal right here,

and I turn the sound of the cars passing by my building into giant rolling waves.

I take the pungent city air, of restaurants and machines, and I treat it as the mighty ocean spray.

I walk with my city shoes over paved streets to my car and I pretend I don’t know where I am headed.

I stop looking at my clock and my phone,

and I arrive where I am supposed to be and I am present,

even though I am searching for forest gnomes in city classrooms,

and treating the people I interact with as my nature friends.

I listen to them intently,

like the creatures I met out in the woods,

next to a white sandy beach,

when I was wearing home-spun clothes and holding warm tea.

I will be curious about today

and I will ask funny questions to people the same way I would to sea worthy gulls,

and when I sit down to study I will pretend my books are ancient texts found in a cave somewhere on an early-morning hike.

Because I can be unhappy with my humanness, we all can. I can resist this life, in this city. Or I can take myself down a different path, on an adventure.

This life doesn’t have to be regular if I don’t let it.

I will allow this day to be a hunt for the things that don’t fall short.

I will find the extraordinary in this ordinary and I will do it by turning what I thought didn’t quite fit in my life, into my biggest ally.


Author: Sarah Norrad

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Image: greg westfall/Flickr





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