Since coming back from the Falcon in Northampton, I have been continually impressed how nature has taken a hold of my sensibility. A simple walk, listening to a melodious foundation, seeing flowers grow in the wild butterflies, dance, humming birds flutter, hearing birds sing, a morning rooster crow and just stopping to take the beauty of the moment in has enraptured me.
I realize how much my daughter Shelby Stanger has captured essence of wonder in her life and her book Will to Wild, which encompasses adventures great and small and beckons us to dance with new experiences.
That is not to say that we don’t have Seasons of disenchantments, where we feel forlorn, disengaged and alienated from time, space, people. Though when we rekindle our thoughts and actions and make magic in our everyday world, we find joy and wonder at our doorstep.
Katherine May magnificently chronicles how one regains- a sense of enchantment in her book Enchantment: Awakening in An Anxious World (2023)
By using nature as our guide, and especially walking, May writes, she “lodge(s) herself out of this existential stupor, she turns to various fulcrums of wonder — meteor-watching and ocean-swimming, gardening and beekeeping…..” A century and a half after Thoreau made his ardent case for walking as a spiritual endeavor and a generation after Thomas Clark’s marvelous manifesto for walking as a portal to self-transcendence, May writes:
When I walk, I fall through three layers of experience. The first is all about the surface of my skin, the immediate feedback of my senses. It is often twitchy and uncomfortable: my boots are too tight; there’s a twig in my sock. My backpack won’t sit square on my shoulders. My walking is stop-start in that phase, curtailed by an endless series of adjustments. I am never sure if I really want to go the distance. But if I walk on through that, those sensations eventually fade and they’re replaced by bubbling thought, a burgeoning of ideas and insights, a sens nterior of my mind feels luxuriant, a place so pleasurable to inhabit that I never want my legs to stop. It’s a creative space, a place where problems are solved in unfathomable ways, the answers arriving like truths known all along.
With the awareness that “our bodies have answers to questions that we don’t know how to ask,” she adds:
If I carry on walking, eventually that fade, too. Perhaps it is low blood sugar, or perhaps the popcorn brain burns itself out eventually, but at some point I reach a very different state of mind, a place beyond words in which I feel quiet and empty. This is my favorite phase of all, an open space in which I am nothing for a while, just an existence with moving parts and a map in my hand, whose feet know the route and do not need my interference. Nothing happens here, or so it seems. But in its aftermath, I find my most profound insights, whole shifts in the meanings and understandings that underpin who I am. In this state, I am an open door.”
Taking the stance that we create a sense of wonder by our own adventures great and small I started asking friends, family and colleagues what they have done or have done to discover bliss that May writes about, the glimmers’ that Deb Danapouints out and our own sense of joy.
The following collage of photos shows what folks have shared with me how that have felt rapture with nature.
- Walking Machu Pichu – Felicia Alexander
- Skiing in Patagonia – Maks Ezrin
- Flying an airplane in inclement weather – Dr. James Flowers
- Hanging out in your own Tent – Liam and Harrison
- Swimming in a Pond – Me
- Fishing – Alex
- Hanging out in a flower field – Teddy and Coco
- Meditating by a pond – John
- Johanna Skier – finding joy on the ground.
- Vickie V- in the forest
- Lady Tracey – in The woods
- Kc Gooding – River Rafting
I invite you to write and send photos of how you discover rapture in nature I will repost your comments and photos.