This I Believe

Sharon - Macedon, New York
Entered on November 19, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: nature

The Healing Power of Nature

I believe in the healing power of nature. I was lucky enough to grow up in the seventies, when kids were sent outside to play. Barring a blizzard or hurricane-like conditions, we were out there riding our bikes, playing kick the can and building forts in the cattails.

The house I grew up in was surrounded by two-hundred year old oaks and had a creek in the back. My Barbie quickly ditched her “dream house” and set up a campsite along the “river”. She had a stone fire pit and logs to sit on by the fire. I don’t remember Barbie having a tent, so she must have enjoyed sleeping out under the stars.

When I was fourteen, my father was diagnosed with cancer. Three months later he died. In less than a year my mother remarried. I was moved from the house with the old trees and the creek to a house that backed up to a well-manicured golf course, with a man I didn’t know and two step sisters who suffered variously from manic depression, anorexia and psychosis. It was then that I thought I found the healing power of vodka.

Sixty-five million years ago a huge meteor slammed into the Gulf of Mexico. Fires blazed across the planet, and the Earth was engulfed in soot and darkness for months, maybe years. Most of the dinosaurs were killed and the plant life destroyed, but out of this ruin some animals lived and the plants began to grow. Anyone who’s visited the site of a wildfire, a few years later, knows what I mean.

So, I too rose from the ashes. Within a few years I discovered the joys of camping and hiking, sailing and canoeing. A few years after college, the serendipity of life took me to a career as a landscape designer. I realized not long ago that what I do isn’t about creating gardens, but rather about getting people outside. Even for five minutes: to cut some flowers or to sit on their patio looking at the trees.

A famous study was done a few years ago tracking gall bladder surgery patients. It should be no surprise that the patients who had views of gardens or trees recovered faster and required less pain medication than the patients who looked out on brick walls or parking lots.

I believe in the healing power of nature. I don’t care where you live, or what very important job you have. Go outside, feel the wind on your face, put your hand on a tree, look to the sky and watch a bird fly. You’ll know what I’m talking about.