A radio report caught my ear the other day and set me to thinking. A medical study conducted somewhere in Holland concluded that people who are surrounded by even a small patch of forest, lawns or parks are consistently healthier than those who have no green space surrounding their living environments.
Well, I have a strong feeling you and I could have told the world that a long time ago, and the researchers could have saved lots of money on this study.
I have tried various times throughout my life to imagine what my life would be like if I were living in a high-rise in the middle of a large city. Then my mind goes all flaky on me and I decide not to even dwell on the thought for long.
Imagine for a moment taking the elevator down to the lobby of a large apartment building each morning, walking to the bus or subway stop, sitting surrounded by dozens upon dozens of other people as you make your way to work in to a congested city office building. At the end of a hectic day, you repeat the cycle of public transportation back to your high-rise home, take the elevator back to your door and retreat within the walls of personal living quarters.
Along the course of the day, any trees or grass encountered have been of the limited, ornamental variety. There would be no stepping out on to your back lawn for star gazing, because the city lights fade those amazing stars away to nothingness even if you were lucky enough to have a balcony to step out upon.
One of my favorite quotes has become one from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings which says, “I do not know how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.” So true.
My places of enchantment have evolved from childhood to the present time, but each one has been one of outdoor solitude. As a kid, a hike to the woods alone or a bike ride (with my dog riding in the bike basket) to our kid-constructed tree house gave me a place to contemplate either the wonderfully gleeful developments in my life or the most recent heart-breaking turn of events which occurs in every childhood: a girlfriend had hurt my feelings or a new boy whose attention I was hoping to land showed definite interest in one of those girlfriends instead of me.
As an adult, the development of life concerns evolve much more slowly, but the pangs of worry are just as real and obviously much more monumental. No matter how old we become, we all need a small place of enchantment to mull over life’s worries or to celebrate incredible joys while we bask in the glory of amazing blessings.
Without this, I cannot imagine how I would have survived to the ripe old age of 50. I have a feeling I would be a much different person if not for the places of enchantment of my youth and those in my life today. I recall hours spent skipping stones over the smooth water of the farm pond while trying to figure out life’s latest challenge; I have walked across wide open acres of farm fields with a heavy heart. Upon my return to the daily reality of chores and responsibilities, things almost always seemed more clear, more manageable.
In this busy season, I wish you that wonderful place of enchantment to ponder whatever needs pondering, and I wish you all peace, joy and solitude.