Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Nature's Beauty

I haven't had a TV for about 15 years now and I have been perfectly fine without. I also try to stay away from other technical devices and appliances as much as I can and spend as much time as possible in nature. I guess I was privileged too, because my parents encouraged me to have a real childhood: I was out building huts, playing in the mud, catching fish with a net just to admire them (and putting them back after), building 'show jumping courses' for myself and my friends and spending time with my dog or with horses.We also went to beautiful places for the holidays, spending a lot of time outdoors in nature.

Traveling helped me realize that there was a lot more natural beauty in the rest of the world than where I grew up (The Netherlands). Most places had more diverse flora and fauna and more beautiful scenery than where I lived. I longed to live immersed in the natural wilderness more and more and got hooked on traveling, which has brought me so many enriching experiences. Spending time in various countries I learned about diverse cultures and traditions, and how people did things differently all over the world. But most of all, I saw all the different masterpieces of our beautiful earth.

Earth is my favorite architect. It provides everything I could ever need in terms of excitement, joy, peace, entertainment, a sense of freedom and awe, deep relaxation, inspiration, valuable life lessons, food for the soul and even a bridge to enlightenment. When I am in nature, I feel truly at home. It doesn't matter where in the world I am. Nature is my home. I often wonder how people cope when they don't spend much time in nature... What could ever replace this beauty and diversity? How do they manage to feel fulfilled when they don't surround themselves with the magnificence that is already here? Maybe they can't feel fulfilled, and end up searching their whole lives for something that could only be found in the peacefulness, stillness and aliveness of nature.

Here are photos of some of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen (and I know there are many more):

Antilope Canyon, AZ, USA
A mystical tree at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, AZ, USA
Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO, USA
Florida, USA
Near Petra, Jordan

Elephants in the Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana
Northern Ireland
Queensland, Australia
Near Åndalsnes, Norway

Maybe you don't live near beauty like this. Maybe you live mostly around man-made structures and buildings. Maybe you would even miss that if it wasn't there anymore, because you have grown so used to it. But have you ever spent time in nature and felt so peaceful, in harmony, and one with everything? Have you ever marveled at the beauty of a waterfall, lake or ocean? Have you ever breathed in the clear and rich forest air, or the ocean air, and felt how it instantly invigorated your body?

Then you know the value of nature.

This is why I feel urged to protect what is left of it. If there were no more forests, no more clean beaches and clean waters, no more fresh air to breathe, then there would be no point for me to live. What if human-created pollution was everywhere and there was no escape from cities, smog, garbage, stinky cars, and cigarette smoke? What if there were people everywhere and no more wildlife, no place to be alone with nature, somewhere in the forest or on a deserted beach, to contemplate life? Yet this is where we are heading if we don't change our ways. Is this really what we ultimately want?

What about an earth where humans and other animals live in harmony with each other, leaving enough room for plants and trees and the natural beauty of the earth to flourish. An earth where we all have access to those sacred, natural places where we can recharge, contemplate life and integrate our experiences. A healthy earth with clean air and clean water, just as nature intended it to be. A place where we can be healthy because we are immersed in the healing energy of the trees and plants that surround us and give us life.

We can go back to this. It is not too late yet. All it takes is a little downsizing and simplification. This is why next time I travel, I want to look for a more sustainable way to do it. Perhaps hiking or cycling around the world. It is not just better for the earth, it also allows me to see and experience more along the way. My mode of transport will no longer be just a means to an end; a way to get somewhere fast. It will be an experience in itself. I am already planning my next trip, which will be on foot, by bike or on horseback (and 100% moneyless of course), after I complete my PhD.

What are your favorite places on earth and why? Where do you feel most peaceful and at home?

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