Standing upon a darkening craggy shoreline, a researcher hauls in his net and deposits its contents into a nearby bucket for transport to the lab. He’s exhausted; his muscles protest the constant movement as the wind whips his hair and tears at his clothing, the swirling roar of the surf crashing below him threatening to swallow him down into its depths. He sits back to catch his breath and give his tired muscles a break and as he does so, he gazes up into the sky. Above, the first evening star sits alone in a purple glow that is quickly turning to blue-black. As if on cue, his eyes begin to pick out more spots of light in the heavens and before he realizes it, he is staring into a twinkling sheet of lights. He exhales, his muscles relax and his mind is filled with wonder at the thought of just how small he really is.
Surrounding us is an odd thing, one that we rarely take time to notice and more often than not, have come to take for granted: this little thing called “Life.” Many of us search our entire existences for peace, solitude, serenity and yet, those same things can be found in places that we overlook daily. Even on a busy street corner, life continues to flourish and exist in its own natural way, adapting to the cacophony that we exist in… that we have misnamed “Life.”
A small ant emerges from between the cracks of a sidewalk and wanders seemingly aimless along the man-made surface, beneath the many feet that tread above, threatening its survival. Curious—this simple creature, existing, adapting and flourishing despite our encroachment upon its natural environment; odd how it continues to search for its food, enhance its territory and live oblivious to our presence; just as we do. But what if we paused for a second to notice it? Would watching this ant be a mere annoyance or would it stir something deep inside you? Something akin to wonder…
It is in these transient moments of wonder where we get our most satisfying and complete understanding of what life is—how complex, how symbiotic and how momentarily beyond the scope of our understanding. In this moment of wonder, be aware of how you feel inside, it is completely calm, completely natural and completely peaceful, if only for the smallest of moments.
As you walk through a park on your way to work, the park is often a means to an ends, people hustling to and fro, and the park itself becomes only a corridor of travel. But what if we were to take more notice of the park as we traverse its length? As the wind cuts a chilly swath through your overcoat and you hike up your collar to shield yourself from it, do you notice the things that dance upon that wind? A dry leaf clings tenuously to the thin branch of a maple nearby, as the wind passes it takes up the leaf, snaps it from its perch and together they perform a haphazard dance; all the time the leaf twisting and turning in a seemingly choreographed manner. A dance of controlled chaos. Unpredictable in its nature, yet wondrous to any eye that notices.
Being ever aware of our surroundings has become an adaptation to keep us safe from predation; however, we have lost focus on the other purpose of our senses. We use our senses to engage the mind, calm the soul and find peace. It is a unique ability as human beings that we can be aware to this extent and extract from those periods of awareness a sense of balance, completeness and connectedness to our natural existence. The next time you’re in nature, appreciate it for what it is and understand how we too have arisen because of it. Hone in to your nature. Live your life ever aware.