22 April 2018

Stream Walks and Staying Grounded #EarthDayEveryDay

Happy Earth Day my lovely ones. For once in my life, I got ahead of myself and thought it was two days ago, so I posted the above photo on instagram and stated my hopes for #EarthEveryDay to get trending... As it happens, today is actually earth day and #EarthDayEveryday is flying free! I'd like to think I started it, but there are far more important things than a hashtag..... for example, celebrating our earth everyday in mind and action.   

From Nutella Day to National Selfie Day, it's no secret that society loves to make a day out of everything under the sun. (and no, the latter wasn't just made up for alliteration purposes: national selfie day is a thing, it's scheduled for the 21st June and the Kardashians are calling it the new Christmas). Yet when it comes to the actual sun, the sky and the soil beneath our feet, the idea of a "day" seems a bit... well, fishy! 

Do the fish just disappear when the 24 hours are up? No! Just like reindeers and christmas, the answer is unequivocally NO. I happened to make the same argument to mum last weekend, regarding my "christmas" bedding; a polar bear is for life, not just for winter! So, it's decided, I am going to pop the bedding back on this afternoon. Before that though, I'm off on  another nature ramble with Dora - our nickname for Millie when she's exploring.  
We had the loveliest walk on Thursday. The sun was shining at its 2018 brightest. My dissertation was feeling a bit less like a mountain, more like a colossal molehill. Yet I decided that the moles could wait; my wanderlust feet and furever friend could not. So I picked up my camera, popped on a podcast - Happy Place - and went on my way. (If you haven't listened to Fearne Cotton's new series, I can't recommend it enough! However, I'll save my full Fern-Fangirlign for my Got to Pick a Podcast or Two Six post next week.)

I first wrote about photography and mindfulness two years ago; it could easily have been written this week. Now that the snow has found its season - aka not Spring/Summer - the flowers are blossoming and I'm able to dance among the daffodils once more... Okay, this isn't entirely true; as much as I love Luna and her whimsical wedding dance, I didn't quite do a full Wordsworth; that being said, Millie moo embraced her inner Anton Du Bark, pranced through the grass and really became one with nature...
As for me, I loved having my camera and its nature-macro setting. By focusing in on one detail - appreciating its beauty - you truly appreciate how much wonder is on our earth. Just the earth, as it is, without any money or man involved. After taking just a few photos, I felt so much calmer and thoughts of my dissertation, degree and doubts over the future floated away. 

Of course, the thoughts didn't disappear forever. I'm not pretending that dandelions make you fine and dandy for the rest of your days! If that was the case, they'd  prescribe them on the NHS and I've not seen Mr Hunt in any Dandelion fields. Nevertheless, for a few moments I found peace. That's the thing with nature; you find peace by just being. I know I talk about being so much on here - and here and here - but it genuinely is the most important value I've learnt in the past 18 months. 

Now, can I honestly say I've found the answer? No. I have days where I feel utterly disconnected from the world. Where I can't imagine anything making me feel 'okay', let alone a daisy or a daffodil. Yet, slowly but surely, I am learning.  I am consciously trying to let myself be, in the present, and learn to feel okay with it. Towards the end of this walk, my podcast came to an end and I took out my headphones
I often listen to Podcasts when I'm walking, as silence paves the way for the not-so-silent storm of my own thoughts - Anxiety isn't one for the "rainbows and smiles" life. On this occasion, however, I decided to go with it. Go with the silence and, to my surprise, the thoughts didn't rush in and create chaos in the calm. I definitely think technology had its place. The combination of  photography and Fearne wisdom actually helped me connect with the present. Yet by the end, as my ears heard the stream and my feet touched the stones, I didn't need anything else.

 There was once a man who became unstuck in the world. 
He took the wind for a map and the sky for a clock and  
He set off with no destination. He was never lost.
- Taylor Steele, Castles in the Sky


You can have all the to-do lists in the world and chase that "productive" day; however, if can't t take a moment to stop and smell the roses, the coffee, the parchment, the freshly mown grass - or any other scent in your love potion - have any of those 'achievements' made you happy? Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps people genuinely do find happiness in these things and I am out of touch. What's more, with so much consumerism and technology, is it actually possible to "just be" in 2018?

That being said, I want to believe that we can make up for lost ground. From Hygge to Minimalism, Blue Planet  and my beloved The Simple Things, there is a definite move towards a simpler, more authentic way of life. Speaking of Authentic, Sarah Tasker's Hashtag Authentic podcast is another gem and accompanied me on another dog walk this week. Her instagram is filled with snapshots from nature; she celebrates authenticity, intent and real community, rather than comparison, perfection and pursuit of the #instagoals life (for more on this topic, see my recent post
For me, reconnecting with the real real world - the earth beneath our feet - has become a key part of this. At the start of 2018, I made a conscious choice to live more sustainably. As ever, I’m still finding my feet and no one is perfect; nonetheless, each keepy cup, canvas bag and bamboo toothbrush can be that little acorn that becomes an oak. Especially if it inspires others to plant them. 

On that note, I am also planning another #bunnyfriendlyfavourites post on plastic-free favourites. Gosh I have a lot of post ideas, don't I? Perhaps to-do lists aren't all bad.... as long as I'm still being - and bumbling - because that's the other wonderful thing about nature: it doesn't demand perfection, or expect A*s. The stream doesn't ask for gifts or gratitude, which many humans could learn from!

A flower does not think of competing 
with the flower next to it. It just blooms. 
- Zen Shin 

Even still, I have never felt so much gratitude towards the earth I call my home. I don't care if this sounds cheesy with a side of cheese fries, I truly am. Not because the world of 2018 is an ideal place to be - far from it - but that's for mankind to answer to. I want to do my bit, all 365 days of the year, because the planet is innocent. Like the animals I want to protect, the planet needs protecting too.

So that is my closing thought for Earth Day 2018. The earth isn't asking for anything, but that doesn't mean we should exploit it. A brown paper bag isn't asking the earth, but it can help protect it. It may seem small or trivial, but we only have to look at nature to know that the smallest things are significant.
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