mountains, moonsets and migrating camels: the moments that led to my self-discovery
When I look back upon the arc of my life, I realise that my times in nature have led to moments of self-discovery. Through being outdoors, I have stumbled upon a few gems about myself – and this probably wouldn’t have happened within the confines of my home, office, or elsewhere in the built environment.
When I am in the city – which is the vast majority of my time! – I am instantly consumed by frenetic activity. There is always something to do and somewhere to go. My mind and soul are consumed by never-ending to-do-lists and the demands of my work and family life. Despite the fact that both bring me great joy, they also turn me away from any chance of introspection. It is possible to slow down and reflect within the backdrop of the city, but I often struggle to find that space.
When I’m in nature, however, I finally have the chance to exhale, pause, and ground myself.
There is something primal about the vast desolation of a desert, the lush greenery of a forest, or the crashing of waves against the shore. Witnessing such wonder transports me into a different state and helps me look inwards. Nature, in all her glorious forms, gives me the space to reflect on where I fit in the larger scheme of things, and more importantly, where I fit within my own journey of self-discovery. In other words, being in touch with nature helps me get in touch with myself.
One distinct memory comes to mind when I think of nature’s role in my self-discover: my time in the vast, mountainous desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan. I remember sitting on a hill overlooking a vista of mountains and feeling so small. This, ironically, brought me a sense of peace and acceptance, after many months of internal turmoil. I felt so finite, and that helped me realise something about myself: whatever heartache or hardship I go through will be as finite as I am. In other words, ‘This too, shall pass.’
After a few days of witnessing mountains, the moonset and slow herds of migrating camels, it finally dawned on me that I had been very hard on myself for too long. My perfectionism had worn away at my vitality and self-esteem; it was time to let go of my impossible standards, and to accept myself for all of my imperfections. In the words of Alexander Pope, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.’ This realisation marked the beginning of my journey of self-forgiveness.
I encourage you to take some time out and experience this self-discovery for yourself. It could be a day at a secluded beach, a trek through the forest, or a hike up a mountain. These are all opportunities to quiet the mind and to allow for some self-introspection. Who knows what shifts may happen within your internal landscape. I hope that these shifts will be as healing for you as they have been for me.