Note: Yet another in a series written during Dr. Allen’s trip to Minnesota’s North Shore.
I am on my annual visit to the North Shore of Lake Superior. Surrounded by nature, I have a 200-degree view of this massive inland sea, and there’s something healing in the ability to see the horizon. My grandfather used to say that a person should raise their gaze to the horizon for at least 15 minutes a day. He believed that when we lift our eyesight it helps us see beyond the activity of the day-to-day and helps us notice the beauty of our world. For me, this habit of looking to the horizon reminds me to take time to see the deep visible, and invisible interdependence of the larger system and our world.
As I was driving up to the North Shore, I noticed the calm of the waters of Lake Superior. It was an interesting juxtaposition to the waterfalls that dot the coast of the lake. They were teeming with water – running full after a 3-inch rain event the previous week.
Tomorrow we are supposed to get an all-day rain which will change the mood of the lake. I have been coming to the North Shore of Lake Superior for over 30 years to be renewed and help recenter myself after a year of work. Sometimes I need to recover from burnout. During these times, I have seen the lake in many moods. I have seen it filled with huge mounds of ice along the shore, that crack and boom when the large frozen blocks bump into each other. I have seen high winds create 6-foot waves that whip across the lake, and bend trees on the shoreline.
Tomorrow, I suspect I will see mist and rain and probably more waves crashing against the granite rocks, a change from the near calm lapping against the shore that is happening right now. Moods and changes in nature are perceived as normal and taken for granted. Last week we had over 3 inches of rain where I lived. The thunder, lightning, hail, and wind made a noisy soundtrack for the day. When the sun came out the next day, we accepted the change with welcome, not surprise.
What can Nature teach us about ongoing change?
As humans, we often think we should be living in a steady state. We think that mood swings mean that a person might not be “stable.”
Does this assumption serve us in a world that is in constant movement? If we looked to nature to teach us about life, we would recognize that our emotions and moods are part of life. When we behave as if we don’t have ups and downs, when we use our minds to ignore our moods, we are choosing to lose touch with this aspect of ourselves.
I believe that we need to continue to integrate all the parts of ourselves (including our moods) so we can become fully whole.
The uncertainty of nature and life for all of us is actually quite empowering and helps us be more alive, creative and curious