Change is in the air. It's been warm enough that the ferns have grown since the end of summer, cool enough that the leaves have turned all kind of red, brown and gold. I was noticing too, how the rain intensifies the colors. It's my favorite season.
During my run yesterday, I was pondering a question I was asked about my injury recovery story. The question was, "How much did the beauty of nature help?"
Without thinking I replied, "It was the main thing". I was asked to elaborate and of course, I couldn't find the words. The question makes me think of an Einstein quote I like, "There is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance."
Almost ten years ago, a woman named Christy hired me to coach her. She had never hiked before and wanted to learn. Tragically, her fiance just had died on Mount Rainier. She wanted to climb to visit the place where he was last alive. One tearful day, we took a break during a hike and sat with her dog for a while. She told me that she felt she was doing the right thing for herself, but that not everyone agreed. I encouraged her sharing a thought that, "Hiking in nature might just be the best thing right now". She replied, "I think it's the only thing".
The only thing.
Who can know the limits of the power of nature? I recognize that what healed my feet was a willingness to be kind to myself. And where did that come from? A tree? An animal? A waterfall? And if so, how does that work?
I'm an intuitive thinker and physics fascinates me. Bringing intuition and science together is enjoyable for me and I'm interested to see what lies between. I've studied the science behind the golden ratio and wondered if it can explain why nature has such a positive impact on humans. Throughout history, builders, mathematicians, scientists, theologians, musicians and artists have been intrigued by 'golden ratio' (also known as 'the divine proportion', by renaissance artists and 'Phi', by mathematicians). The golden ratio is found everywhere in nature and is very evident in branches and cones of firs and pines, as well as in petals and seed heads. In the 12th century Italian mathematician, Leonardo Fibonacci, discovered a numerical sequence (now known as Fibonacci sequence) which matches the Golden Ratio. A physician I was hiking with recently, pointed out that one complete turn of a double helix measures 21 amgstroms wide by 34 amgstroms long which are consecutive numbers in the Fibonacci series. We can find it all over, in art, in a shell, the petals of flowers, in dolphins, starfish, honeybees and humans, in the shape of solar systems and our DNA.
The numbers are interesting and they pique my curiosity , possibly explaining why I feel like a round peg in a round hole and it feels better than being in a box.
When I look out over a forest, or through one I see perfect symmetry and perfect beauty. It's love without attachment; nourishing, warm, quiet and deep. It's a feeling of home, of being held. It's safety. It's the most powerful de-stressor for me and medicine knows that an abundance of stress is not healthy. It's like a hug from someone you miss and it's a sense of belonging. It's a feeling that everything in my world is right.
So yes. It's the beauty of nature, which is the catalyst and it's a catalyst in both the figurative and literal sense, causing inspiration but also that oxytocin-laden biochemical rush that is so good for the body and emotions. And all of that beauty combined, creates an incentive for kindness, patience and self-forgiveness, "Oh - The way I've been doing it wasn't working. OK no problem, I can let that go and do it differently now". It is an environment of wellness.
So last months question for people I meet was "How does nature make you feel?"
"Is nature it a catalyst for you? If so, in what way does (or could) it have an positive impact in your life? How can you harness the power in this feeling?"