The other day my husband and I had a burning. The smoke was everywhere, flames so high they scorched our hairline a bit and yet the fire department knew, we had a permit, all was well with the world. Of course I had gone to the gym already that day (I know, I’m trying) but it just didn’t compare with the joy in my muscles as I hauled wood from the pile of small trees he’d cut over to the enormous fire, raked the thousands of leaves away, down the hill, over toward the woods, out of harm’s way.
Being outside is therapeutic. It binds us with the parts of ourselves that are ageless, timeless, older than that new house down the road but still younger than the trees some distance away. It ignites our inner animal, the parts of us that react without editing, to the sun or the wind on our skin, to the rhythm of our footfall or the way our eye catches a rabbit bouncing past.
The shape of nature is so silent, so strong, beckoning us to exist without so much inner and outer judgment or criticism, without so much self-doubt or inquiry into the nature of our social status or financial status. As my older son proceeds through middle school and begins to battle the “winner versus loser” war within his peer group, I mourn for the innocent days when he played in the sandbox and spent hours on the beach, splashing in the waves… I realize we are all struggling with these middle school labels, still, who has the better apartment, house, car, job, spouse, children.