Perspective & Hope
Gazing down from high upon the mountain top, overlooking landscapes and houses that look smaller than the tip of our fingers, we feel on top of the world. Lying as low as can be on the ground, by the ocean, in the forest, or even our backyards, we absorb all of the smells and senses around us; we feel grounded and humbled. From the highest highs and the lowest lows, our perspective changes immensely. We are part of something big and beautiful. We can see and feel that.
From the top of a mountain and high in the sky, we glance upon ecosystems, houses of families, bodies of water, skylines, and are amazed by all that we can see. We feel big. Whereas when we’re laying by the ocean, watching the waves crash in, we feel small, the ocean is powerful. These perspectives give us meaning. These perspectives give us hope. Somehow, they make us whole and connected.
Nature reminds us how small we are, but yet, how big of an impact we can have. It shows us how powerful it can be, and the strength that it has carried with it for billions of years (4.543 to be exact). Nature is what grounds us. Whether or not you are an avid hiker, adventurer, or gardener, the simple presence of natural things enhances our wellbeing more than we can even measure. We notice that even by putting plants into our workspaces. It makes us feel revitalized.
Spring 2020, during a time where it felt so hard to find hope and belonging, I recognized my richness (and not in terms of financial success, but rather, in terms of quality of life) to be so fortunate to live in a home surrounded by nature. Waking up in the early morning, peeping my head out of bed to a direct view of my window, to a pinkish, purplish, soft gaze over the mountains across the Kennebecasis river, to close my eyes and hear the birds singing louder than I’ve heard them sing in years, to smell the freshness of spring. That smell that is a perfect combination of flowers and a fresh rain—a smell that we’re deprived of for several months. Mornings during this lockdown were what brought me serenity.
I sometimes felt guilty for living where I did during this pandemic knowing that some people lived so disconnected from nature (among the many struggles people have faced during the lockdown that hides behind closed doors, and across borders). But with that being said, I embraced my moments at home. I took this time to slow down, to spend time with family, to cook, to plant and to learn, which I think many of us have done.
It felt like a very strange time to be put into lockdown. I had just finished university in May 2020, and had no idea what I wanted to do with my abundance (yet what now feels like a small glimpse) of knowledge I had gained over the past four years, especially during a pandemic. How could I develop my community? How could I be environmentally sustainable? And how could I tie the two of them together? I put a lot of guilt and pressure on myself to bring good into the world. I wanted to get to work immediately.
So, I picked up reading Anne Frank’s Diary, which I had been wanting to read for probably over 10 years and had sat in my closet for that long. That book changed my life. The Diary of a 13 year old jewish girl living and hiding during the Holocaust helped me gain immense perspective. Contained in such a small hiding space behind a bookcase, with eight people in a space of only 450 square feet, Anne Frank, the young teen wrote about her struggles, her weekly routines, and of course her deepest thoughts. In reading her diary, Anne seeked to find meaning and hope during such a dark time in history. I recall in one part of the book, her mom and Auguste (another resident in hiding with them) feeling hopeless, unlucky, and unfair, which of course we can understand why they would be feeling that way. However, Anne was struggling finding the point of feeling that way. Anne remained hopeful. And what brought her hope was not people, humanity nor things. What brought her hope was those intangible things, natural things. Nature.
But I looked out of the open window too, over a large area of Amsterdam, over all the roofs and on to the horizon, which was such a pale blue that it was hard to see the dividing line. "As long as this exists," I thought, "and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts, I cannot be unhappy. -Anne Frank
We all have hard days. We face hardships inequitably. Navigating our way through life, finding purpose and meaning can sometimes feel unattainable. There is a lot in our everyday lives that may interfere with a positive perspective. Trying to find the best perspective at all times is nearly impossible. So how can we as individuals remember to remain grounded, humble and compassionate, even at the hardest of times? There are a lot of factors at play, but what remains a constant is knowing that we share air to breathe, grounds to walk on, a sky to see and minds to ponder. These intangible parts of life are what brings us hope.