I had a rich inner-life as a child. No imaginary friends, but I spent long days playing in the woods, creek, fields, and grass on the 80 acres I grew up with. We didn’t have close neighbors, but there was plenty of “scope for imagination” on that land.
There was the stand of hemlock trees that became a whole pretend house, and the one spot where you could cross the creek on a fallen tree, and the white pine that I suddenly couldn’t climb anymore when I grew faster than it did.
I knew where the lawn changed to moss, back by tree line where the old swing set was, and where the mysterious hole was below the tiger lilies, behind the house.
I knew where the spring surfaced, and where it collected into a magical pool that was covered by watercress each spring.
And I always knew exactly where I was, and how to get back home.
After high school I went away to college and jobs and apartments and while I sometimes reflected on that time I spent “before”, it was background to my new reality of responsibilities and adulting. Until I went to an herbal conference back in some hills that echoed the hills I used to know. At the end of the day, driving back in the sunset, the landscape hit me so hard that I wept right there behind the steering wheel.
I suddenly felt the enormous reality that where I now lived wasn’t “home”, and that I desperately missed those hills I used to call home. But my life isn’t there anymore, and I needed to find ways to start recognizing my new home in that same deep way. I had to rediscover my ability to make friends with trees and rocks, and reconnect to my present world.
(And in this process of rediscovery and reconnection, I remembered my Herbalism. At its heart, my teaching of both Pilates and Herbal Medicine is driven by my passion to help you recognize and identify these small voices without words, that guide you to connect both inside and out.)
There are lots of ways to deepen your connection to plants, to learn to recognize them outside and to learn what they do inside you. There are classes, walks, talks, books, videos, apps, all sorts of ways to get more information.
But I challenge you to do this one thing:
- go outside
- find a plant you don't know- anything from a flower to a tree. Look around to see what calls to you, what catches your eye
- sit down by it
- look at it for a while, at least 15 minutes
- come back in and grab some paper, and jot down what you thought of while you were sitting there
Memories? Observations? Random, unconnected, meaningless thoughts? (Of course they're not! But we'll get to that.)
Really, get going. I'll wait.