Solace & Perspective in Untamed Places

Contemplation by David G. Hawkins (CC BY-NC)

Contemplation by David G. Hawkins (CC BY-NC)

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside. . . . I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. ―Anne Frank
Go out and see the tiniest of nature, admire its life
force. . . . look up at the clouds or the stars, and marvel at that which exists without you doing or saying anything. Bask in those. Be like those. 
—Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
The earth has its music for those who will listen
—Reginald Vincent Holmes


Election tampering, Orlando, Brexit, blocked immigration reform, Istanbul—it’s been a rough month. Even small victories (like abortion access in Texas) remind us of ongoing battles (like other states’ obstructionist efforts and Republicans’ refusal to fill an empty Supreme Court seat). Sometimes it seems like the world is going to hell.

But as Michael Shermer argues in The Moral Arc, despite discouraging daily news, human history’s long trajectory is slowly but surely curving toward enlightenment and progress. To glimpse that hopeful macro perspective, heed Ani DiFranco: take a few steps back and put on a wider lens.

Walk away from the noise. Find a natural setting with as few machines, screens, and ads as possible. Think wind in trees, babbling brooks, clear skies, great expanses. Beaches—literally the ends of the green earth—are perfect places to relax and gain perspective. But any forest, lake, prairie, or garden will do; just head for the great outdoors.

Communing with nature is good for the soul. Immersing yourself in a world that exists with or without you—that’s beautiful and powerful and indifferent to you—instills humility, wonder, and calm. It says your concerns are small in the vast expanse of time and space, which moves to a different rhythm than your fraught life. Surrounded by lush, rustling green, it’s hard to cling to petty irritations and hyperlocal blues. Waves that crash with the force of monster trucks leave little room for self-absorption or despondency.

As I mourn the senseless deaths of Orlando’s young revelers and bemoan Brexit’s impact, I’m reminded there’s a world that thrives beyond violence, news cycles, financial markets, and advertisers’ reach. With a few deep lungfuls of fresh, wild air, I can exhale those pressing concerns. Untamed places help us recharge and return to our daily lives with longer, more balanced views and softer, more resilient hearts. Things we all need in these difficult times.




  1. Ahh … an elegantly written expression of the beauty of our surroundings. Nature gives us pause … a chance to inhale the wonders of the world. Perhaps that’s why we loved camping so much. The beginning and end of every day allowed us time to ponder the beauty of our environment, without the noise, lights, and sirens of the everyday. We need to take time to appreciate the tranquility and let our minds enjoy the quiet.

  2. Well said. For me it has always been Rain. It is nature’s carwash. It is the perfect old fashion NY Union Station Shoe Shine. It is the shiny, plastic coating over everything that makes light dance over every surface while setting the stage for a glorious burst of sunshine as the clouds retreat stage left and right. You are right, natural places help us see balance. Very healthy. Thanks.

  3. I totally agree, Michelle. I love all your stories.

What do you think?