Take Your Sorrow Outdoors and Watch It Change

Lisbeth Essays, Life

My number one piece of advice to anyone riding the rapids of sorrow is always the same. I borrow it from “Step Into Nature” by Patrice Vecchione:

It seems small, but it’s the best tip I know.

  • The source of your sorrow is not important here.
  • The weather is not important here.
  • The time of day is not important here.

What matters is this: you and your sorrow outside.

I don’t care if it’s a short walk, a long hike, half a marathon, nine holes of golf, or a mountain bike ride in the middle of the Mojave Desert where, through sobs, you yell your dead dog’s name like a warrior cry that will heartbreakingly never be answered by paw prints and a wet nose again.

Take your sorrow outdoors and watch it change.

Whether your sorrow has been caused by the loss of a loved one, the sudden departure of your job, or the ridiculously quick vanishing of your marriage with a few overdue words, it is sorrow and you can deal with it better if you escape from the stale air and electric lights of the indoor lab of this human experiment we call life.

Outside, you will be able to breathe better, to feel all of your fingers and toes again even if it is two degrees outside and you are wearing boots and heavy gloves and doing laps around the hardware store in a gorgeous but brutal rural town in Connecticut in the first week of January. (This may have been me during a stressful moment recently.)

Nature has some therapeutic spell that we keep studying even though we don’t need to study it. We feel it. We’ve felt it. We’ve known this since the beginning of time.

But like all great things since the beginning of time (love, babies, friendship, music, art, writing, and, maybe, cookies) we still need to be reminded of their importance and effect on making this human experience liveable, bearable, unsurvivable but worthwhile nonetheless.

  • When your heart is broken, sometimes only the sun can be a balm.
  • When your soul feels adrift, sometimes only the wind can bring it back.
  • When all seems lost, sometimes what you need is the amazing smell of fresh pine needles to remind you of all that is found.

So, my friends, if you are deep in the well of pain and loneliness, if you feel like you will never know light or love in this or any other lifetime, I would say this: pull on your shoes. Head to fresh air now. No matter how dark the sky, no matter how early the hour, no matter how much the air will hurt your face.

But a moment, I assure you, will be enough for right now.

Tomorrow, you can find another moment.

Good luck. I love you.

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Lisbeth Essays, Life


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