Recovering Your Self-Esteem Through Nature
I had been hospitalized for severe dehydration and weight loss in December 2010. My mother died that same month the year before, and I had lost my purpose in life when my estranged spouse moved in with me and my autistic daughter in our two-bedroom apartment. I had agreed to try to put the marriage back together and made it conditional that we purchase a three-bedroom home in the Tawas area where Ashley had been schooling. I became depressed when my spouse didn't like any of the housing choices but wanted to continue having a right to direct my daughter's education.
When I was finally discharged from the hospitalization, I was transferred to a care home and then to a group home in West Branch, Michigan.
I began hiking the Ogemaw Hills Pathway near West Branch, Michigan, and, as a result, my sense of life's purpose slowly began to return. I found myself attempting to finish my bachelor's degree, condensing stories for recording, and discovering my art through quilts.
This original poem is a celebration of my walks on those pathways. Walking in nature is an excellent way of recovering one's self-esteem and purpose.
The Vocabulary of the Poem
The following definitions will help you to enjoy the poem and provide you with a little lesson in word origins. Enjoy!
tryst - an appointed meeting (Old English triste, meaning "set hunting station")
sylvan - of or pertaining to the woods (Latin silvanus, meaning "a tree")
sylph - one of a race of supernatural beings inhabiting the air (Latin/Greek, variant of silv + nymph)
undine - any of a group of female water spirits (Latin und, a wave or water + ina, ine)
gnome - one of a species who inhabit the inner earth (Greek gnome)
tandem - one following or behind the other (origin unknown)
sublime - elevated in lofty thought (origin uncertain, possibly Latin sub, under + lime, light)
variegation - a change of appearance, especially colors (Latin varius, diverse + agere, to make)
Hiking on the Pathways
A tryst, a calling, an inner urge, beckoning . . .
sylvan elementals, sylphs, undines, and gnomes
are coaxing, luring, and inviting the hiker
to their castle, their domain of
fern, bush, maple, oak, and pine.
Smell the sweet air, perfumed by earth’s lush flora--
trilliums line the path to greet the walker, and
butterflies dance in delicate tandem, as if
bathing in sunlit and shaded silence
for the foot-weary traveler, guest of their sublime.
Hear the woodpecker’s rhythm, rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat,
pecking the aging bark of the sycamore,
just above and to the left of the benched man—
faster, ta-ta-ta-tat, intermittent, but persistent,
a welcomed companion for the moment in time.
The exposed tree-rooted path winds and winds,
leading the human through an emerald dream,
uphill, downhill, along sapling-filled meadows,
to the left and the right—a variegation of
botanicals, deciduous and evergreen clime.
A vibrant song . . . divine.
Recharged now, each nucleus of every cell,
oxygenated, tingling, resurrected, and renewed—
the hiker leaves the vibrant kingdom
not as he came, but heart overflowing with song,
a vibrant song to be shared with others divine.
Nourishing the Soul, Mind, and Body
Sometimes we get lost in the fast-moving modern world and sense the futility of the competitive drive for money and material possessions. When this happens, it's time for some seclusion to get in touch with your true feelings and thoughts.
Surrounding yourself with nature is an excellent way of nourishing the soul, mind, body, and emotions. The trees, plants, earth, clean air and water are intrinsic to our well-being. So, take time out to indulge the senses by taking a walk on a nature trail. You'll feel clear and rejuvenated--guaranteed!
Comparative Experiment by Stanford on the Benefits of Nature
Statistics on urban living suggest that people need to have more contact with nature to promote and maintain mental health.
If you do not have easy access to a nature walk or forested park, use natural landscape pictures and houseplants in your home and place of work at your desk or cubicle. Allow some time for meditation, listening to nature sounds, and using aromatherapy of floral and herbal scents.
© 2012 Marie Flint