I am looking up at the night sky, the nearly full moon in clear view and I notice that my breath comes easy, most natural, as if my looking and my breathing is one continuous motion. Breathe in the moon, breathe out the moon.
I remember frequently looking skyward as a child studying the cloud formations as I lay in the grass of my front yard, sweet green grounding me, or watching the trails of planes from the beaches of Killbear Provincial Park, warm sand hugging me. Someone once told me that people who notice the sky are healthy because they are connected to nature.
I was reminded of my skywatching days when @hystericalblkns posted this picture on Twitter and I felt an early pull.
For two months each year of my childhood, my family lived outside, camping everywhere that we travelled: each stop on a 6000 mile journey was a new lesson from the Earth. The Prairies, the Rockies, Bryce and Grand Canyon, the deserts of Nevada and Tiauana, Mexico. We had no electricity, no cell phones or social media. For most of our trip, we lived in nature.
When camping for 10 weeks at a time in the Muskokas, I would catch frogs and create cities out of sand and water, forest and rock. Many hours were devoted to constructing vast amphibian empires that would fall overnight, my slimy captives breaking free. But time spent temporarily arresting them, living in the natural world, forged a deep connection. This was my toybox where I touched and smelled and learned.
For many years, I lost the sky and floated without knowledge of its power and potential in me. I once thought my desperate desire to camp and bike ride through forests with my first partner, was a yearning for family tradition, but it wasn’t just that. I continued to feel the pull of sweeping whites, skyward blues and blacks even after we split. My now husband understood this force without words and we built a life outside, camping, and walking in the forest as part of our communal nature. Those times on beaches near water, in the woods next to crackling fires, looking skyward restored me.
When studying literature, I often tell my students to look for the contrasts, the juxtapositions that reveal some concept or idea about the human experience. I am looking up and realize my paradoxical position. Staring into the night sky, the air above me where only visions of place exist in a mist, I am feeling grounded. I can study all the books, and identify all the themes, and intellectually indulge in all of life’s lessons, yet lose my way.
I think to myself, “how did I allow my life get so removed from nature?” And I wonder how many others are asking this too.