Everything is terrible forever – by which I mean that my depression is acting up, I have a splitting headache, and the effort of thinking and planning feels like moving Mount Everest with a teaspoon – so I’m going for a walk. It’s a sunny, unseasonably glorious day out, so there’s at least a fifty percent chance that this will help move from “nothing matters and everything hurts” to “by gum, I think I can actually do a thing or two.”
My thoughts cycle through my head like angry chipmunks, scolding and chattering away into background noise. A mist of tiny gray and white birds flies from bush to bush, always a few paces ahead of me. Are they juncos? I think so, but can’t get close enough to tell. It doesn’t honestly matter, but a friend recently told me that they always arrive just before the first snow fall, so I feel compelled to figure this out.
I slow down and start using what a former teacher called fox walking. Keeping my weight on my back foot, I lift my other up and place it on the ground toe first, rolling the sole down towards the heel. Only then do I shift my weight. Done correctly, I find it a slow process, but fortunately city birds aren’t too picky, so I can get away with shifting my weight while I lower my heel. I get close enough to the little birds to see the white bellies and dark gray uppers that identify them as dark eyed juncos. Does this mean that the spirng-in-winter will be drawing to an end soon? I guess time will tell.
Eventually, my path leads me to a particular tree. I didn’t realize that’s where I was going when I left the house, but I have a particular relationship with this tree, and it makes sense that I would be drawn here when I feel lost and afraid. She has, after all, helped me with this before. My friend is a weeping beech. During the green times, I can sit against her trunk and be completely invisible, due to the thick curtain of leaves that surrounds her. Now that it is ostensibly winter, her bare branches are beautiful, but don’t offer much in the way of privacy. I’ll make due.
I sit on the ground, cradled by roots on either side, and lean back. Immediately, I feel her energy reach out and enfold me in her version of a hug. We sit there, breathing. She guides me to feel my own roots sinking down into the earth, drawing up support and nurture and foundation. Then she leads me to feel the moon and sun on my face, pouring down energy and intuitive support from above. She encourages me to spread my roots out, letting them seek out everything that nurtures me.
For the first time in days, I feel whole. Alive. Calm. The subliminal shaking, that desperate tension in my mind and body, melts away under the flow of nurture. I revel in it, feeling energy flow in and out, up and down, along with my breathing. Before, I was alone, isolated, disconnected. Now, I am plugged in, a part of something larger than myself, which can nourish and support me without being depleted. Maybe that sounds like a simple thing, but it isn’t. The human, physical world is a place of finite resources. Each of us has only so much day time, so much energy with which to meet the demands of the day. The day hold only so much day light, and each growing season provides only so much food. Intuitively, we know that, even in American, where the grocery stores never run out. I’m used to being cautious about what I ask for, trying not to deplete those around me. But energetically connecting to nature provides a source of support that will never – can never – run out.
Eventually, I open my eyes. It’s barely after noon, but the weak sunlight is low enough in the sky to shine directly into my eyes, and I have to look to the side until they adjust. Slowly, my mind begins to wander again, as I return to ordinary consciousness.
I spend a few more minutes leaning companionably against the trunk of the beech tree, before getting to my feet and bidding her farewell with a light kiss. What I’ve received is a reminder of things I already knew, and not a revelation, but it still feels earth shaking. Sometimes, I need reminders that I can’t yet remember to give myself.