Walking with Max last weekend, I realized something. All week I’d led a life with plenty of stimulation: work, activities, books, music, and of course social media. When I went out into the early spring morning I was smacked with a cascade of sensory experiences, different, powerful and healing sensory experiences. For some reason, my inner self was tuned to the sensorium, which is generally a good thing. It means that my thoughts are not in ascendance but my experience is my priority. So I could smell amazing things; see and hear late spring buzzing, blooming, squawking and splashing all over. My experience was of filling up a container that had been emptier than I had realized, and taking in, taking in, taking in.
I recently read something about “earthing” and “forest bathing.” These concepts were amusing to me at first, because they seem so, well, unnecessary. Of course we need to touch and feel the ground under our feet. Of course we need to spend time with trees, wildlife, decaying leaves and insect bodies, the richness of everyday life outside of the house. But when I continued to read, it because clearer to me…many people do not have these experiences with any kind of regularity. Could it be that people actually have to be TOLD to get outside? That they need to purchase “earthing” products to bring them closer to the planet on which we live, from which we have sprung, both as a species and as individuals?
The product part is the ugly side of capitalism, I guess, along with excessive corporate profits, pillaging the land for “resource development” and the like. Most people, I am guessing, actually DO have access to a bit of earth, a spot of green, a park or verge or a place where water flows spontaneously over the earth. What we need is the will to make getting to ground a priority. Rather than buying an earthing mat to go under your feet while you sit at your desk in front of your computer, get out of the office and walk on the ground.
Then I have to ask myself whether I have been spoiled by the abundance of natural riches here where I live? Maybe I am assuming too much, because finding “nature” is easy for me. (I don’t like using that term to mean whatever is outdoors, because I kind of think I’m part of nature, and you are, too). Outdoor “nature” is just a step away. And real woods, for forest bathing or hiking or just walking the dog, that kind of nature is within a few minutes of biking. We also have the “nature” of blackflies, mosquitoes, ticks, and black bears, just to be clear.
So I don’t know about earthing or forest bathing. I do know that when Max and I head out in the early morning for our adventure, both of us enjoy it. Maybe it means even more than I realized, but I do have a good sense that my body and mind need what I get when I am out there.
Below are some shots of early June at the University of New Brunswick Woodlot, where dogs and people can bathe in the forest, the swarms of insects, and the smells of late spring.