As a parent, I do not get much time to myself. Like really to myself, when I can think through entire trains of thought, stare out the window until I decide to look away, or just sit and listen to the birds. But, as my daughter continues to grow and becomes more independent, these moments are returning to me—and just in the nick of time.
You don’t need me to tell you how hard things have been of late, and so I know you can understand how amazing it was when I recently managed to steal myself away for some time in a hammock in the forest of Rathtrevor Provincial Park.
For those of you who have not been there during the summer, it is a crazy busy time. Even during a pandemic, the sounds of laughing, crying, screaming children carry through the campground and bring thoughts of “Oh no! Is that my kid?”
But somehow the moment I settled in and began to gaze up at the canopy of trees, all other sounds faded away. It must have been a conscience effort, but it sincerely felt like my body and mind had been waiting since the birth of my child for this moment to relax; the mother in me was forced into the backseat of my mind.
I heard the wind moving through the trees, the birds singing and—nothing else. Knowing this experience was fleeting and that at any point I could be interrupted and someone else’s emergency would automatically become my own, I fully immersed myself in the moment.
I focused on my breathing and took deeper, calming breaths, noticing the sweet smells of the forest. A light, misty rain began to fall and, rather than choosing to think about how I didn’t want to get wet (and all of the possessions that I was sure my family had left lying around the campsite), I relaxed into the moment and felt the rain. I allowed my gaze to relax, which helped my mind to move to a more creative space. I stopped analyzing and began to daydream.
What a gift! I thought I’d forgotten how!
With the convenience of screens always at my fingertips and so many important distractions all of the time, I had stopped giving myself the joy of thinking about—nothing. And everything!
I began to dream about our human history, our ancestors and all that mine had lived through so that I could be in this exact moment. Did they allow themselves to listen to the wind in the trees and if so, did it sound the same? I’m sure the taste of the rain has changed over hundreds of years due to the differing dust in our air, but the feeling of wetness on our faces remains the same.
Depending on our surroundings, whether it be city, farm or forest, the smells would definitely be different than those that I breathe now. But focusing on our collective breath and understanding that this moment is fleeting and needs to be cherished, could I be sharing these feelings with so many past and present?
I thought about ongoing adversity, as a parent and as a woman, and how thankful I am that my maternal line was strong and capable even during times of oppression and war. I truly believe that future generations will look back at us in the same way. Knowing that this pandemic will not be the end of sudden hardships that we will encounter and knowing that we will, once again, do our best to survive and thrive while helping others to do the same. We have to, don’t we? We owe it to future generations to address all that we have set in motion and need to make right.
Finding perspective has come to me when gazing at the stars or looking to the horizon over the endless ocean. It is important to feel small sometimes and understand that all that we have is the present moment. It’s easy to worry about the future and live in my thoughts full of what-if and worst-case scenarios. But on the rare occasion you get some time truly to yourself—and it will happen, I promise!—try to rest.
Focus on the generations that have brought you here and those that you will be here in the future. Most of all, let your senses tap into the power of nature here and now. Let nature heal you, connect with you and inspire you. Our amazing planet is constantly readjusting, finding equilibrium and bringing forth life through the cycles that sustain us.
Follow her lead, feel her kinship and know that you are not alone. Smell the wind that fills your lungs, feel the rain and know that you are a part of something larger than your everyday worries. You have made it this far in life, now let yourself enjoy the view.