Now, after decades spent trying to figure out why aspects of my life have not made sense, do I understand the need for Transcendentalism. I can truly appreciate why Thoreau and Emerson spent their time surrounded by nature and in the most truest sense, were protected by it.
The earth doesn’t judge our individuality, doesn’t require us to follow along in our texts and highlight important parts of social ideas. When I allow Nature to be my teacher, she doesn’t hold a societal mirror in front of me, and she does not require me to reflect on how I fit into a mold or a box. Rather, she raises that mirror and requests that I simply reflect on my truest self–an exercise that has proved to have deep healing powers.
Can one create a sense of individuality from anywhere?
I believe it is possible to be unique wherever you live. Indeed, you can be ‘weird’ or refreshingly ‘odd’. Beyond a doubt, it is not a simplistic path to follow. To deviate from the norm is a personal challenge to reflect on the dichotomy between how a person should live according to the “color in the lines” world we live in and how that person does live–essentially, it is a challenge to live without fear. This is particularly evident if, like me, you hail from the forest highlighted reverse bobs, Bunko nights, and hedges of Escalades also known as “the suburban dream”.
I’m going to contend that it was only when I isolated myself and cut off energetic chords from certain people and their judgements, whether good or bad, that I truly began to learn who I truly was.
I would go so far to say that even good judgements work to write a script, so to speak, for a person.
What was my process?
A lot of wandering through Nature.
I began to study individual blades of grass, to observe the way each thin line on each piece differed from the other, to take note of the way all of these differences were clear of judgement from any other strand of grass. The individual uniqueness of every single leaf of that grass worked together to paint a portrait. That’s a beautiful thing.
I studied leaves, the way they, even in their uniqueness, work together to herald in much-needed rain or cool wind. And how, even in the fall, as they sway and pirouette to the ground on their final journey, they do this in the most content of ways. They lived their lives; no regrets. They completed their significant journey, made their contributions. In that, rested a plethora of lessons about my own personal path.
Nature helped me learn to slow down. She taught me how to pause earth and time–to take a walk and stop to look at pieces of gravel on the road, or the colors in the sky. When normally I would appreciate the beauty of something and move along, I took three more minutes to study it, or sometimes I took an hour, or I took all day and nestled in those tranquil moments, I learned to take deep breaths–Nature is a deep breath–she is the deepest, most caring, nurturing deep breath.
And from all of this, I learned who I was and who I can become.
I recall school, how the system seemed to press that socialization is crucial. I would negate this.
While being around others does work to acclimate a person to the handling of social situations and pressures, it becomes a detriment by implementing expectations that require them to fit molds: from standing in lines to standardized testing– which I realize is not the choice of the individual school but more so a reflection of a system that our society no longer translates into.
School is not the end all, be all. Academia is not the key to ‘finding yourself’.
Go outdoors; for once, don’t run through a rainstorm– stand in the middle of it. Watch the clouds dance for you and appreciate the cadence of raindrops drumming against leaves.
Nature is surely a powerful element, infinitely wise– with the ability to destroy and rebuild. The earth is our teacher and only when we listen, are we able to learn truth.