Treasures of Oz

Celebrating the Natural Gems of Ozaukee County

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Simple Ways to Reconnect with Nature

A road in autumn

"Tag, you're it!" times are long gone, it seems. The carefree, spontaneous, innocent encounters we once anticipated with insufferable eagerness are no more, and we're not talking about childhood, per se. We're talking about humanity as a whole. The appealing transparent reads: "Welcome to modern times, where isolation, social distancing, emotional avoidance, and pseudo-positivity rein with absolute superiority." Sadly, somewhere along the course of humanity's history, nature, as an entity, lived not to thrive in unison, but to bifurcate, separating humans from all shades of green. That's where we stand today. A sight to behold, indeed. With phone screens instead of windows, with the nano universe instead of the macro universe, the question imposes itself: Where do we go now but nowhere? – Be still, our hearts. There are ways to reconnect with nature. Not all is lost.

Ways to reconnect with nature

Luckily, the "that train has left the station" feeling (and we all experience it, without exception) is a deceiving dilettante. We can reconnect with nature. It is of utmost importance to remember this universal truth when in doubt: No matter how seemingly alienated, we are always one with nature, being its integral part, and vice versa. (we are all made of stars, the loveliest truth of them all) There is no "US" vs. "IT", and, similarly, the "US" and "IT" premise also proves to be invalid – WE are an entity. Singular matter. Atoms dancing the synchronicity waltz. We need nature for all its benevolence. (health benefits included) Most importantly, it is our only home.

a view of a bog
There are ways to reconnect with nature. Let's get you home.

Engage your senses

Asking to engage our senses might sound redundant. But only at first glance. Let's go deeper. Ask yourself this: When was the last time I consciously engaged all five senses? Nature is a sensory wonderland, an inherent joy buffet, waiting to give selflessly. Unfortunately, we always seem to have other plans. Digital platforms and to-do lists have successfully overthrown the majestic beauty of the outdoor world. – In a word, there's no time. Things to do, money to make, dinner to prepare, dreams to forget. By consciously practicing engaging our five senses, we can restore the long-lost appreciation for nature. Something as simple and "silly" as bird-watching can be a life-changer. Open your eyes. Breathe in the crisp air, feel the sun on your skin, and listen to what swaying trees and diligent birds have to say.

Find your quiet

Do we even know silence? For most urbanites, silence is as fictitious as the Fountain of Youth. – and just as needed. The truth is perpetual man-made noise (dripping tap, passing cars, neighbor's heavy footsteps, helicopters, garbage trucks, etc.) unobtrusively attacks our nervous system. They make us prone to anxiety, lowered concentration, poor performance, hearing impairment, insomnia, and chronic stress. Our minds and bodies yearn for quiet; it's a universal need. And, no, before you say it – the answer is no. Noise-canceling headphones, no matter how brilliant and soothing the music, will not compensate for the unobtainable silence. We have to make an effort and go the extra mile. Our peace rides on our willingness to look for it. The only music we really need is nature sounds.

Water, always water

We are always looking for ways to reconnect with nature. Who's up for a swim? It's not a cliché; water does something to us. The process may be unfathomable, but the benefits are pretty tangible. We are mentally wired to love and crave water; after all, our prenatal home is water (amniotic fluid, but let's not get all finicky). Smelling, observing, listening, and finally – physically connecting with it (i.e., swimming) seems to heal all the wounds our delicate shoulders may carry. Recreational outdoor activities are highly encouraged in addiction recovery, as they foster self-awareness. Spending time in nature and being physically active (canoeing, surfing, swimming) can help with structure and mental rewiring in recovering individuals. If your goal is to maintain your sobriety – hit the water. Most cities have direct access to water, rivers, oceans, lakes, or bays. No excuses.

A man standing on a rock by the waterfalls
To this day, nature remains the planet's most famous conductor.

Invite nature in

We are busy. And life is afoot. Time to grow some plants. To really reconnect with nature, we should give nurturing a chance. It's time to progress – from passive – to active. Planting a seed is anything but an insignificant doing; it's complex, metaphysical, and, above all, rewarding. To plant the seed and watch it grow is a thing of absolute divinity, no matter how small the plant is. Brilliantly enough, the roles will be reversed eventually. By nourishing a little life, we unconsciously (and simultaneously) create space for self-nurture. Therefore, we become the benevolent, selfless form of nature that nurtures the one in need. (which brings us back to the beginning of the article and how interconnectedness is "a thing")

A person holding three plants
"For it is in giving that we receive."

Follow the trail

Animals are exquisite teachers. They don't do quantum physics, granted, all the same. Their lessons carry an invaluable truth about life. And, if we let them, they might change our perspective forever. For example, explore the ocean or go outside. Find a family of ants. Watch the hard-working, rushing millimeters march in absolute unison. Look up. Follow a bird colony. Admire their consistent inconsistency. The raging trajectory. Befriend a squirrel. Observe its efforts in harvesting nuts. Tick-tock. The lesson is simplicity.

We spend billions of imaginary currencies on space exploration in the hope of finding answers to burning existential questions. We would rather chase black holes than sit quietly by the river in the company of swans. But the answer is hiding in plain sight. It's right here. In nature. Within us.

Take every chance you get

There are innumerable ways to reconnect with nature; find yours. Get a telescope, and walk to your local astronomical observatory. Stay up, and greet the dawn. And remember: we are one.