When the world gets a little unbearable, I take the time and go to one of the many state, regional and national parks located throughout Colorado. An hour's drive in any direction can put me in the middle of a forest or prairies, or mountains. I experience solitude in these places. Technology is silenced and replaced by natural sounds.
I like to do things that bring fulfillment as well as freshness to my mind and heart. When I am out there with my camera and writing En Plein-air, I give myself the opportunity for a good life. I don’t search for or pretend to know the meaning of life. The meaning of life is what you make for yourself. I am attracted to the beauty of nature, and learning more about my world is exciting to me.
Initially, I did something I usually don’t do; I sat in the same place for an extended amount of time. Nature came to me. All I needed to do was sit, and the northern flickers, spotted towhees, and steller’s jays would come to me. I only needed to be patient. Sitting and waiting is a good plan. But there is also merit in wandering and finding the stuff that interests you. I got up and roamed for a few hours, and marveled at the things others would find mundane.
I have taken thousands of bird photos over the years, and it seems that I have captured most of the species in my area. I rarely capture new species. I am stuck on approximately 80 species so far. If I ever get a chance to get other species, I will have to travel out of the area. In the meantime, I picked up a new challenge.; wildflowers. I take photos of wildflowers, and when I return home, I identify them using my books and the Internet. Research takes time, but it is something that I enjoy, and it is worth a lot to me and brings many purposes to my life. The wildflowers give me more insight into life, just as the birds add insight.
The insight that nature provides is learning details of the wholeness of life beyond technology. The inner workings of the world, the connectedness of everything, including us in society, was already extraordinarily complex long before humans made any attempt to control their environments through the use of inventions for hunting, shelter, and clothing. As a humanist and Luddite, I believe technology in its purest form drives a wedge between us and the world that sustains us. Going out in nature is a reconnection and an appreciation of the natural processes to run a planet.
Whether we are interested in nature or believe in the importance of preservation, we should remember that we are governed by the same natural laws that govern trees, worms, and bumblebees. We should remind ourselves that it is crucial to our existence to preserve nature in any way we can, no matter how big or small the contribution. Education is the key to reattaching people to nature in a positive and meaningful way.
A good and well-lived life is one in which we develop values and stick to them. I have learned through failure and criticism, and boy, I have learned a lot! I don’t live my life like Diogenes, who wanted to be independent of society altogether (he also masturbated in public and defecated in theaters). I only want to continue to have the opportunity for these spaces to exist, where I can depend on silence and a place where I can enjoy solitude without a feeling of loneliness. Nature is a great therapist.