Note: This blog was written during Dr. Allen’s trip last week.
I’m visiting the North Shore of Lake Superior. The waves are up and crashing onto the granite rocks after yesterday’s rain. The wind is stronger today. The trees are just starting to fill out, their leaves noticeable but still unfurling. The branches are moving with the wind. I have had the opportunity to notice the rhythm of the wind in the trees outside the place I am staying.
When I am in this beautiful environment, I spend time differently. I take more time to notice nature (and with a much deeper sense) than when I am at home. At home, I also have Nature around me. The Mississippi River flows outside my windows. The many oak trees in my yard and my garden are filled with new growth, reminding me that it’s spring, the time that nature nurtures growth in all its plant life. But I also have my home office there and the demands of my work schedule that pull my attention towards work, zoom calls, computer time, and other routines.
So, today, I am taking time to sit and feel the rhythms of nature outside my window. My heartbeat slows and I feel a calm wash over me. I am truly living in this moment. And when I take time to do this, it helps to heal and center me in this beautiful world.
When I leave my home to drive to the North Shore, I am focused on getting here. I am still thinking of work that I left behind and work to come on the days I return. But being in this space with nature all around me slows me down and I start living to the soundtrack of nature. I don’t see or hear cars here. I don’t see man-made things as I look across the lake. The waves have a continuous tempo of building and crashing on the rocks. I find it speaks to something deep in me.
What if we could all experience this connection to nature and its rhythms?
One of the challenges we face today is climate change. The source of this challenge is partly due to our disconnection from nature. We have built an economic model that is based on extraction and exploitation, not regeneration and interdependence. This economic model has been with us so long that we don’t recognize the damage it is doing to us and the planet. When we spend our days living and working within this model, we don’t have time to connect to the natural rhythms around us. The growing, harvesting, resting, and renewal cycles of our seasons are not experienced except in relation to how the weather might help or hinder our life.
When we are unconsciously steeped in a model of extraction, land, and water are only valued if someone can make money from them. Land that is untouched is a potential profit and is “useless” if undeveloped. It is this kind of thinking that is driving the deforestation of our planet. Extraction relationships are exhausting, and they are damaging to us when we unconsciously engage in them.
And extraction relationships aren’t confined to nature. We also use extraction to exploit people in our organizations. People aren’t worth anything unless they are performing a function that is useful to us.
This is why I find my time on the North Shore of Lake Superior so renewing. It reminds me that nature flows at a different tempo and with generous interdependent design. It helps me deeply connect with this beautiful ecosystem. I am not looking at nature for what I can extract, rather I am experiencing the beauty and pace that flows in nature. It is that pace and connection that makes me whole.
I invite you to take time to notice and breathe in harmony with the rhythm of the waves, or the wind in the trees for 15 minutes today. See how it makes you feel. Do you feel more connected to yourself, to others, and the natural world? Give this gift to yourself and see where it takes you.