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.


  1. What a beautiful post, Laurel. Thank you so much for sharing. I think about you often, and pray for your health. Stay strong and keep fighting! xoxo Heather

  2. What a lovely post Laurel, I am honored to know you. I so wish that science would make some breakthrough soon to help you and so many others like you.

    I know how fortunate I was to find antibiotics helped me so much even though I still need to take them again now and then.

    Recently research done with Lyme Disease Action and James Lind Alliance has identified the Uncertainties in Lyme Disease - here is hoping this helps to get our Health Authorities to take notice especially as Dept of Health here in UK supported this research!
    Here is the link if you feel like reading it
    Uncertainties with testing diagnosis and treatment as if we didn't already know!!

  3. Have you been better tested for Lyme and such Tick borne and similar infections, dearest ?

    1. I have indeed been tested for Lyme by Igenex. I wrote a bit about here:

  4. Yes. We saw the man in the mountains from a rest stop way back in 2001, when we were in your area. I miss the blue skies! It is a wonderful view that you have from your home.

    Thanks for a inspiring post.

    Karen G

  5. wishing for better times ahead for you laurel! your view looks peaceful and beautiful.

  6. Wow Laurel: beautiful!
    Robin Youmans

  7. Thank you for this post. Your strength helps me find mine. I don't know if you know this poem by Mary Oliver, but I thought you might like it:

    Wild Geese

    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.

    ~ Mary Oliver ~

  8. What a beautiful post.
    Keep believing lovely. One day I hope and pray we will all be free of this horrid illness.
    Keep fighting and keep looking for answers xx

  9. Dear Laurel,

    Here in Holland we all know the story of Anne Frank. I've never thought of a 'connection' between our stories and the stories of the Jews who had to hide during WW2. It's interesting though and I will definitely read Anne'diary again in de coming months with this new perspective.

    Wishing you all the best and hope you will be able to go outside soon.

    Love Eva

  10. Dear Laurel, Ever since I saw your online testimony on youtube for the first time a few months ago (I'm behind in news, I admit it) have been on my mind. I started getting sick 13 years ago and have had many ups and downs. Long journey back to a current 80%...didn't just take one thing to get better but many, many, many things...maybe done in the "right" order...maybe because I see one of the expert doctors and have since practically day 1. Maybe because we've thrown a ton of money at it and now we (my parents and I) are all financially broke...but I can work so it's a trade-off I consider worth it (and so do my parents, I'm fortunate that way.) Maybe it's these adrenal shots I get from Germany that pushed me up to this current 80%. Maybe because I'm insanely disciplined and organized about it all too. Maybe because of all of it. Maybe if one piece was missing, I wouldn't be here. I don't know. But I've been through many (or most?) of us. Anyway, nice to see you wrote something recently. And like I said, I think about your situation a lot. If I can be a help AT ALL...please contact me. I'm trying to help as many of us as I can. What we go through is a travesty on the level of any other I've witnessed. I even started a charity, but haven't had a lot of time to devote to it as I must work all the time to try to make up for the financial expenses of treating this condition (for now.) I know you are probably not up for much conversation, but, if your parents are willing, I would be happy to talk to them too. I'm not selling anything...I just want to see if I can help you find something to get better somehow. I know you probably feel you've tried everything, but you also don't seem to have a spirit to give up. What you endure really never leave your are a wonder woman. Please let me know if you or anyone in your family wants to talk to me. Thanks and best wishes to you. Gina (

  11. Beautiful and inspiring. Thank you.

  12. Lovely post, Laurel, and what a wonderful quote from Anne Frank. I find solace in nature too, whether it's watching the birds through the windows, or getting out there and gardening when I'm well enough. I think it's very therapeutic to have that connection. I hope you have many more good days soon and that you are one day able to step outside again.

  13. Beautiful and soulful. Thank you, Laurel. May you become well.


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