Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nature's Solace

Sometimes, on "good" days, my parents wheel me to the other end of the hall where, for a couple hours, I am able to lie in their bed instead of my own.  I often refer to these days as my jail break. It is the only time I ever really get to leave my room and see an alternate view. I am fortunate that this alternate view also happens to be so gorgeous.


A funny thing happens when you are confined indoors to one room day after day for over a decade.  The outdoors becomes almost surreal in its beauty.  The mountains are always more majestic than I remembered, the trees a brighter green, and the sky so vast and vivid blue that it takes my breath away.  It feels a bit like being a child, discovering the world for the first time. 
I try to notice something new with each visit, such as a shrub or cactus that previously escaped my notice, the formations and patterns of the clouds, the way the branches of a particular tree sway in the wind, or how the sunlight casts varying shadows on the mountains.

A few months ago, I discovered something I'm surprised I'd never seen before.  I've been looking at these mountains now for years and somehow never realized that there's an old man up in those rocks.  I'm not sure if he's always been there, or if there's been a slight change in the shape of the rocks to make him appear more prominent. But he's there, lying down on top of the mountain, facing the sky.

(Click to enlarge, or click here for a detailed photo)

Now that I've found him, he's pretty much all I can see. I like him, though.  We are living parallel lives: lying motionless, enduring the storms that come and go. The only difference is that he gets far more sunshine than I do. :)

I also love to see the birds soaring through the sky with so much ease, grace and freedom.  They fill me with both awe and envy.

Back in my own room, a variety of birds and wildlife continue to keep me company through my window.  The goldfinches are still my favorite.  They bring a brightness to the desert and sing such beautiful songs.

Lesser goldfinch

Besides my window views, my only other real means of escape is through audio-books. Due to neurological and cognitive problems stemming from ME, I have not been able to read or watch TV in 12 years. Thus, my main way to pass the time is through listening to the radio or to audio-books from the library.  Sometimes, unfortunately, I'm too sick even for that and am unable to tolerate any sound at all.  On those days, the dreams that come with nightfall are my only relief.

Recently, I listened to the audio version of The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank.  For those who may not already know, during World War II, when Anne was just 13 years old, she and her family went into hiding in the attic of an old office building to escape capture by the Nazi regime.  They remained there for two years before being discovered.

I first read Anne's diary as a teen. It was quite interesting for me to revisit from my current perspective –  as one who is also living in confinement (though clearly confined for different reasons). 

Anne, too, writes of how nature took on a new beauty for her.  Things she once took for granted and barely noticed now rendered her speechless. Because it was so dangerous for her family to be seen, shades were always drawn and glimpses of the outside world were rare.  Anne loved to go up to the upper floor of the attic where she and her companion, Peter, could look out the window at some distance. She writes:

“The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew, the seagulls and other birds glinting with silver as they swooped through the air, and we were so moved and entranced that we couldn’t speak.” 

Anne felt nature was the best remedy for coping with her dismay about her circumstances. Nature made her feel like God was present and that all was as it should be.  As long as the beauty of nature existed, she stated, “I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”

I, too, often find solace in nature.  There is something comforting in its beauty and perfection.  It is a reminder that there is harmony in life; there is possibility and hope.  Someday I will no longer be limited to windows in order to see blue skies.  Someday the answers will come, the doors will open, I will step outside and be free.