As a Virgo, an sign ruled by the earth, I am very connected to the material world. I saw this in my youth, where I had a tendency to hold onto my possessions. I had a slight hording problem, where I had a hard time letting go on my material trinkets that I believed brought me joy. What I “wanted” became what I “needed”.
I think much of society shares this problem of prizing items and materialistic “stuff”. We buy items because we believe that they will make us happy. And while they do at first, we also end up craving something new. It is the capitalist cycle that has lead to the over-consumption of our resources and has led to the extreme amount of waste that our society produces, causing the destruction of our planet.
We hear it all the time, “You can’t buy happiness with money”, yet we don’t seem to believe it, because we still buy, buy, buy. Why do we keep repeating the cycle if we think these words hold truth? Our ties to Nature hold a bit of the answer.
Being out in the wilderness, exposed to the unknown, we find ourselves shifting our perspective outside our own personal bubble of self-consciousness, to one of whole-consciousness. We observe the sights and sounds around us, never knowing what we will hear or see next. It takes us away from our daily routines to a new experience. Ah, that word “new”. New excites us. New surprises us. New is mysterious. We crave New. And we have sought this idea of “New” with our material possessions. But new doesn’t have to cost anything. New can help the planet instead of destroy it. Nature is New. Each step is a surprise.
The unexpectedness of being in nature allows me to appreciate my life. When I am out in the forests near my house, I am in awe of the wonders I explore. Filled with excitement at the discovery of a gathering of mushrooms, or captivated by a sighting of a doe, I cherish these moments knowing they are rare. At the same time, unexpectedness isn’t always as wonderful. Being caught in a downpour, or facing a chilling gust of wind, being exposed to the elements fills me still with appreciation, but for the things I take for granted in life; a warm home, clothes on my back, and food to eat, basic survival needs. So I appreciate these “needs” instead of focusing on my “wants”.
Realizing that I have everything I need in life, due to my time out in nature, has very much impacted the way I now live. When I discovered that my obsession with my items was unhealthy, and that I didn’t need these things to make me happy and appreciate life, I began to purge, reducing my personal items to either necessities or things of deep personal meaning or benefit. I went through my closets and got rid of things I didn’t use or wear. I found the gadgets that were unnecessary. I thought, why do we have three different cutting boards? Did I really need that electronic wine opener when a corkscrew does the job? I went through my trinkets and thought of personal memories I had attached to them. Was it a cherished heirloom? Did a good friend give this to me? Was it from my travels? I sought to keep only the things that meant something to me. My simplistic way of living has brought me peace and happiness, allowing me to appreciate more than just the physical, but the spiritual connections of the world around me. It is through nature that I have learned this lesson.
I encourage everyone to spend at least 30 minutes to an hour out in nature each day. Take a walk, take some photos, and discover something “new”. Whatever stress or problems you have, watch them disappear while out in Mother Earth. Take this time to appreciate your life and reflect on it. Maybe you will discover the joy that I felt when out exploring the natural world, and will take the lessons nature has given you, and implement them in your own life.