As I walked along the gravel track leading down to my sister’s front paddock at 9:30pm on the eve of the Winter Solstice, I remembered the outdoor world I’ve recently left behind with it’s glittering stars, velvet air, night time hum, and crisp intense realness.
My brother-in-law had asked me to check on the bonfire he’d lit this afternoon that would smoulder overnight until the morning, so I wandered down without expectation to ensure the flames were under control.
Walking past the mist covered fields on either side of the driveway, establishing my path without light by the sound of gravel crunching beneath my feet, I suddenly felt reconnected with the outdoors.
When I was on the Pacific Crest Trail from April to October in 2013, the sun, moon and stars became close to me like family or friends. These were the constant counterparts of my journey, forever changing in their own unique way, but ever present whether I paid attention to them or not. I felt so close to these elements surrounding our planet that I painstakingly missed them when my trail life ended and the civilised world took hold. Of course they were still there, but they’d gone from being my closest allies to friends I only saw when I had the time. Like old friends, when you catch up after months without contact it’s like time hasn’t passed, but there’s always something missing; that true common understanding of one another that only comes from spending everyday together and living your lives in that fashion for months on end.
Tonight when I was reunited with the stars and the silence of the night, tears began to well in my eyes. When I reached the bonfire I had only checked on because I was tasked, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t simply walked the 300 meters on my own accord to view such a marvellous spectacle. I’d simply forgotten to take notice. There is so much stimulation in our world between phones, computers and television that we forget the most breathtaking display of nature is waiting for us right outside our front door.
I’ve never felt as connected to this planet until I spent the most part of six months outdoors. Every smell, sight and touch I experience when I’m back in the wilderness often ignites a feeling inside me that wasn’t there before. A true appreciation for the gift of life we were given, and the glorious planet it was packaged in.
This is not to say the world is a perfect place, it’s far from it; but if we don’t appreciate the glory of its small miracles every once in a while then what are we holding on for?
At your next opportunity go outside; view a sunrise, a sunset, or simply breath in the fresh night air under a blanket of stars, just to remember how lucky we are. We may all be guilty of ignorance towards the troubled state of our world, but we shouldn’t be guilty of ignoring the presence of nature’s beauty so close to us.