Like many others, I am really inspired by the words of people such as John Muir, people who spent a lot of time wondering and contemplating in nature and exploring the deep connections and revelations that arise when we take time to pause and look and ponder. I think making time to engage with “everyday nature” is both crucial but also easily achievable – and the benefits are so rich. A lot of my work with groups and also in the work I create myself is concerned with exploring the details in nature around us and looking at ways this can soothe, inspire and ignite curiosity.
There is something really important about spending time outside throughout the seasons and wondering the same pathways again and again – it’s like peeling away the layers of an onion because more and more things are revealed each time. The sense of discovery can be so rich if you make time to notice – to look up, to peep downwards, to stop and listen… One of the (many) things I love about working with children is the millions of ways they notice things and the amazing questions they ask of the world around them. They will notice an ant crawling along, or see the possibilities in a puddle, or pick up an interesting stone or stop and wonder what’s inside a hole in a pathway.
Life can sometimes feel overwhelming and difficult and it’s easy to feel a sense of things moving at a fast pace which you have little control over – and I think time with nature can be such a massive antidote to all of that. Things make more sense when you notice the connections that happen at every level in the natural world; the flow of the seasons and the cycle of birth, life and death all have a sense of interdependence and little things effect big positive changes. Its something I always need to feel and especially so at the moment, I’ve been finding myself reflecting very deeply in recent months about the soothing, uplifting and inspiring power of nature.
I have several groups that I work outside with on creative projects throughout the year, we always start each session with a few moments to notice what’s happening in the space, what might be different from last time and to look for questions… Children will notice the tiny details and these lead to some amazing creative explorations, they are driven to explore the world around them in so many ways.
I think that also, by taking time outside to look around and ask questions of the natural world, we can start to find a deeper understanding about ourselves and a deeper sense of inner peace; its that part John Muir’s quote “by going out, I was really going in”.