During my depression, my world narrowed. I just didn’t want to go anywhere. My life was lived inside coffee shops, on the couch watching television, sitting in my office with the door closed. There was something deadening about this. In hindsight, I guess I felt that doing something else wouldn’t make a difference anyway.
I have learned over the years that nature is a powerful antidote to depression. Being in nature does make a difference. Maybe it’s because there is such power in nature. It’s always in motion, isn’t it? There isn’t any clinical depression in nature. Humans evolved from the natural world, not from concrete and office towers. One study found that a walk in a park or countryside reduced depression whereas walking in a shopping center or urban setting increased depression. This summer, I am going to reconnect to nature by taking my daughter on nature walks. During these times, I just want to let my incessant conversation with my depression go and let nature speak to me.
A favorite poem of mine, “Wild Geese”, by Mary Oliver, speaks to me of the beauty and healing power of the natural world:
You do not have to be good – You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about your despair, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting- over and over announcing your place in the family of things.