There is a bug outside mimicking the sound of freezing rain tapping against the window on a winter night. I am smiling.
I didn't link nature to my emotions while I was walking in the woods, sleeping under the stars, or dipping my toes in the salty waves. It was while I was driving down the highway with my ac cranked and nature whizzing by on the other side of my rolled up windows that I realized how much my happiest emotions, the ones that I squeeze hold of too tightly and that slip away too quickly, are fed by the natural world.
Humans have a way of driving out the most passionate feelings inside of one another-we are passionate about love, hate, our beliefs, causes, losing, winning, injustice, revenge, belonging. But those feelings can have negative and positive energy attached to them. I won't discount the devastation that nature can inflict on the spirit of someone who has lost everything in a hurricane, earthquake, flood...but nature is a force that does not take human emotion into account.
When I am walking down the old railroad tracks by my house and I see red berries that I can put in a berry bowl and it reminds me of Christmas and I think about frosty windows and twinkling lights and lit candles and family gatherings, I get a feeling deep in the most protected part of my heart that cannot be described as happiness or excitement or love-it cannot be described at all.
When I see the skeletal remains of a leaf after the snow has melted and revealed the hibernating world that I have forgotten, I think of science with the kids in elementary school and the looks on their faces when they see something ordinary in a new and fantastic way. It provokes curiosity and awe and feels primal.
And when I run into the water with my nephews and nieces to avoid the torment of a surprise splash party for aunty, and my hair is stuck to my face with sweat and I betray my own nervous system by shocking it to death with freezing cold water-I lose my breath for a moment, and it isn't because of the drastic drop in body temperature. It is because I want to pause and remember the moment for as long as my brain can sustain it without succumbing to hypothermia.
The berries, the leaves, the water--each a fractional part of the astonishing world around me that frees me from love, hate, our beliefs, causes, losing, winning, injustice, revenge, belonging...or prepares me for them.