I might never go back to a gym. For 17 years I’ve assiduously trained with my amazing trainer Emma twice a week and seemingly kept various gyms in business. Despite the need for gyms to play increasingly loud music and for people to talk on phones whilst pressing weights (which of course shouldn’t affect me), I have persevered. There was no alternative was there? But then along came Covid and the gyms were closed. Emma and I headed to the park and I had an unexpected awakening. Exercise took on a whole new dimension.

being outside in Nature is perhaps the safest way to find healing and solace.

With fixed park benches, mats, a few kettle bells, straps that suggested erotic entanglements, and other similar small apparatus, we discovered a whole new world. The early autumn mornings were cold and testing but often the glorious sun arose. We are now into our second Covid coming and winter is even more of a challenge; but something hasn’t changed – the glorious outdoors and the magnificence of nature. Last week I lay on my mat for five minutes after my workout (I think that’s allowed) and stared up at the mighty canopy above. My heart was pumping from the workout. It seemed like an extra exertion had been made. Out of my designated cave it was good to be alive.

It was during the drama of the bushfires early this year that I began to think more clearly about the great outdoors and the importance of nature in our lives. I felt almost equal grief for the people who were suffering as I felt for the loss of our majestic forests. It was a tragedy whichever way you looked at it and, for possibly the first time ever, I felt the power of what we were all losing. Trees that are centuries old, some of them powerful giants of immense beauty, are irreplaceable in our lifetimes. We will miss them but over time they will regrow and future generations will enjoy them. The earth is eternal – we are not, although certain beliefs argue that we are. But that’s for another day!

Connection to Self and Others is the essence of life

My late arrival at the importance of nature in my life had grown from my personal search for meaning and ongoing building of the Life Again story of Connection. Connection to Self and Others is the essence of life but through my trips into the Australian Outback I realised the emotional energy that comes from connection to country – and so the land – was almost an equally vital part of the jigsaw. As I studied the Aboriginal manner of culling and protecting their forests and bush, I understood that they understood. They understood that we are all in this together. Man and Land.

And as suggested earlier, it was during the first Covid lockdown I realised absolutely how important nature is for all of us. We are born into nature. That very word, nature, comes from the Latin natus meaning “born” and this is the essence of who we are – part of Nature from the moment we’re born. The bigger and more crowded cities become, the more technology becomes all-consuming, the larger our egos, the greater our disconnection from others, the more our souls cry out for what’s real. No wonder the explosion of desperation and the resultant cries for help during Covid. But Covid has only exacerbated our labyrinth of woes. It’s how we live. Especially during lockdown.

but something hasn’t changed – the glorious outdoors and the magnificence of nature.

But we can change the mix. CONNECTION TO NATURE is a critical Pillar of Life Again. I am certainly not the only one to recognise the link. It’s a call-out from all quarters. I have been reading some amazing books recently which seem to be a part of a movement. They are not political although they have their political undertones. The Overstory by American Richard Powers won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2019 and was described by Tim Winton as “A masterpiece”.  The UK Sunday Times called it “An immense and intense homage to the arboreal world”. To me it’s a total call to nature. I know so little. And my new favourite I’m reading is Fathoms, a book on whales by Australian Rebecca Giggs. It shows us how we might feel about animals in a time of technological change and ecological crises. Again, it takes me away from the murky world we are living in and lifts me back into a world of light and possibilities. It’s refreshing. It’s like the breeze blowing on my face. As I recently read, in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, being outside in Nature is perhaps the safest way to find healing and solace.

The key is that the moment you get out of lockdown unrestricted is the moment you can unlock this opportunity to begin again. For starters, travelling abroad will be impossible for some time so it’s the opportunity to explore your city, your state, your country. How wonderful is that? Think positively about what you will see when you’re out there. Some of these places you may have seen before – often many times – but imagine seeing them through new eyes, through fresh eyes, through inquisitive eyes, through “thinking” eyes. 

As I lay down last week looking up from my exercise mat, I heard a noise. A young lady walking through the park. She had technology hanging off her head, her ears, her hands. Her head was down. It was as if she was wandering through a wonderland blindfolded. I wished I could have said something to her. But she wouldn’t have heard. Sadly, she’s not alone.