Two weeks ago I went home to my birthplace. One of the things I did, was walking to the mountain. Finally. High up there I breathed freely, watching the high mountains on the other side of our lake. It was beautiful. At the top I found an architectural wonder, where I could snuggle up between blankets and a good book. It was so quiet and peaceful, feeling the heartbeat of from the mountain. The sound of a rivulet, the heavy breathing as a climbed up to another top, the warm wind caressing the trees. But the loudest sound were born in the silence, where you can hear your thoughts and feel your emotions. That’s where you hear the steady heartbeat the most. It’s the sound of being alive.
Yesterday I had time between meetings, and chose to talk a walk. Norway has a plethora of places to escape to if you need some peace and quiet, so I went into the woods. A lot of people were out, since the sun was shining and that does not happen to often in Bergen.
I had no rush, an hour was at my disposal, so I could choose the pace I wanted. That suited me perfectly, because taking your time means being in the here and now. I saw the trees more clearly, and smell how they were preparing for spring. The road in front of me went in all directions, and it felt like a privilege that I could go wherever I wanted.
After a while I came to a small lake. It had a little sand beach, that was shining in the sun. Clear water licked the sand away, and the soothing movements brought my mind to rest. I also saw a lot of dogs, eager to smell and explore their surroundings. How free they were, how simple their lives seemed. I realized that sometimes it is that simple. You only need to look around you, take the world in. Even if my head sometimes tried to lure me into planning or worries, I would not let it. Instead I continued walking, one foot in front of the other. Feeling my feet touching the earth underneath.
Usually I am not very good at being in the present. I have thought that mindfulness is not for me. I am too busy and can`t be bothered to just sit and stare into the air. Even if I have discovered time and time again that doing just one thing at the time gives me pleasure and enjoyment, I so easily forget it. Because there is another email I must answer, another task I have to do before my next appointment.
When you think about it, there really is no rush. My roommate tells me that what you don`t manage to do, should not be a concern of mine. They are just small annoyances, and the world will not fall apart.
While I walked, letting the sun touch my face, I realized that he was right. The world is very much where it should be. And nothing that I have done or will do can change that. The world is always close to us, ready for us to explore it and enjoy.
We are walking in the woods. The wind is blowing, rustling the leaves. The smell of pine trees envelops us. It reminds me of my past: Sitting under a red-leaved tree, looking up at the sky, feeling happy. The wind tries to blow off my cap, so I press it down. My ears are cold, so I put my scarf up. I am breathing through the fabric, watching him from the corner of my eye. He is smiling and talking about the future he wants to build.
I see the trees around me. Some are thin, swaying calmly back and forth. Some are thicker, with green needles drizzling down on us. He gets something in his eyes and has to stop. His eyes are tearing up and he starts blinking several times, but it doesn`t help. After a while, he gives up and continues walking. I start to say something else, and after a while asks about his eye. He smiles and tells me everything is alright now, the irritating object is gone. Funny how things suddenly stop being irritating when you stop bothering about it.
We have already walked far, and he has told me more about himself. He talks about his father, who in spite of trying to protect his children, made things worse by not letting them explore their world on their own. Suddenly I remember a psychological experiment where people in a nursing home could push a button if they needed a nurse. One group did not get this option, and had to wait and see what happened. The group that could choose when to push the button, and thereby control their environment, soon became more independent in other aspects of their lives. They wanted to decide what they should eat, and found more meaning in their everyday life. How can a little thing like that, change so much?
Humans crave freedom. Nothing is more important.
When the wind is blowing, bending trees this way and that, they can do nothing else than stand there, letting the wind decide what happens next. Some stems are weaker than others, but also more beautiful when they sway back and forth. They are dancing, free like birds even if their stems ground them. A realization hits me: No matter your circumstance, you can adapt. Sometimes the gushes of wind will be strong and scare you. But if you go with the wind, letting it carry you without fear, you might just be stronger than you think.
Have you ever stood in the wind, feeling the force of it? Your hair flying, your clothes dragged backwards. Maybe you are trying to go forward, but the gusts are too strong. So you just stand there, close your eyes and feel the air on your skin. If you turn around, the wind will shove you forward. And you are the one to decide where to go next.
The Misconception: If you are in a bad situation, you will do whatever you can do to escape it.
The Truth: If you feel like you aren’t in control of your destiny, you will give up and accept whatever situation you are in.
I’ve always loved the autumn. When I drove home after work today I had to force myself to not look too much around me. The temptation of being sucked into the red and yellow colors, did not go together very well with my ability to drive. But I looked out at the trees caressing the mountains as often as I could.
On Sunday, I will go kayaking for the first time in many years. I look forward to sitting inside the tiny kayak resting on the water, looking around me. Feeling the calm settle inside me. Putting my warm clothes on, feeling safe and at home. Because sometimes being outside is like being at home.
This cartoon is heavily influenced by the books Natural Capitalism – Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins (1999) and Mid-Course Correction – Ray Anderson (1998). It is also in the same vein as the flash animation “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard, which I watched when I was about 90% of the way through the drawing process.
The water rests now. But sometimes the ocean can be angry. It`s waves can lead to destruction, leaving debris behind. It can wash over every building, every monument we have built. It can come with mighty force, so that no one is safe. People get small in the water`s wrath. They scream and beg, but nothing works.
Sometimes we need to be surprised. Here are some beautiful and colorfol animals that might brighten Your day!
#1. Nicobar Pigeon