Photo courtesy Dave Morris
This morning, as the sun was rising and clumps of fog had yet to dissolve from the landscape, I hopped on my bicycle and took a stroll by the horse farms near my home. Despite it being the end of July, the temperature was a brisk 60 degrees, feeling like a nearly perfect autumn day. We typically endure hot, muggy weather this time of year in the Bluegrass State, so I was grateful for the lifted weight of the summer swelter and to be able to cycle down the road without feeling instant fatigue.
Every time I get out into nature, whether it’s via bike, along a hiking trail or harvesting from my backyard garden, I feel at peace. So much of our busy lives are centered upon the "I”—the work "I” have to do, the aches and pains "I” feel, the tough decisions "I” have to make. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in this self-centeredness, and the resulting tension and anxiety can be maddening. However, being alone and quiet with nature—the big wide world of nature—reminds me that it’s not all about me. It reminds me that the life I’m living is just a small piece of the universe’s big puzzle, and even if it seems like the walls around me are caving in, they are, in fact, not.
Do you ever ponder this idea? This idea that there is something out there bigger than yourself, and by just plugging into it, an array of opportunities open up to you?
When I read books or watch documentaries about people in far off lands—people actually living off the land and connecting with it on a much more survivalist level—it gives me pause. This world of smartphones and 24/7 news coverage—this go-go-go lifestyle we all know so well and assume everyone partakes in–isn’t the norm everywhere. Humanity connects in far greater ways than via Facebook—were you surprised?
This week, I want to challenge you to connect to something bigger than you. Yes, you’re farming. You’re connecting with goats and chickens and earthworms and cucumber vines—but even that is the world you have grown to know and understand best. They are, in essence, who you are. Maybe a bicycle ride through by a horse farm isn’t how you get a glimpse into the intricacies outside of your day-to-day, but there are endless ways you can burst out of that little "I” bubble and see the world around for the great expanse that it is. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Open your home to community members you don’t know well, but want to get to know better.
- Try cooking a cuisine from a different culture and read about why the seasonings they use are important to them.
- Visit with people of a different culture/religious affiliation, and ask to observe or participate in one of their ceremonies.
- Spend time sitting in the garden and just watching. Observe how the plants move throughout the day and how the insects interact with them.
- Get involved with a community group working to solve an issue you care about.
- Ask a grandparent to lunch (or if you are a grandparent, your grandchild) and have them tell you stories about their life. Try to see the world from a different generation’s perspective.
- Read a book where the main character is from a different country, culture or time period.
- Take a blanket to a corner of your farm you don’t typically frequent. Spread it out, lay down on it, and close your eyes. What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you smell?
- Spend time serving a meal, planting a tree or doing another form of service for someone in a different life situation—someone who is homeless, has physical challenges, or is mourning the loss of a loved one.
- Join a friend in one of their hobbies you’ve never participated in.
By connecting to something greater than yourself and investing in the lives of other people, I have no doubt you’ll find inspiration. If you’ve felt stuck or everyday life has been feeling mundane, stepping outside your comfort zone will leave you feeling invigorated and refreshed. Maybe you’ll even get a surge of creativity that helps you overcome a problem you’ve been working at. You and the work you’re doing is important, but it’s not everything. Tell me, what are you doing to get connected in a deeper way?
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