My Journey to Nature

I woke up this morning to rainy, overcast skies, but the day was new. . .a never-been-lived-before kind of day. I began thinking about all the little things I had to be grateful for, things I used to take for granted, like plenty of hot water for my shower, breakfast, and a fresh cup of coffee. I smiled to myself as I remembered how much I enjoyed that old movie last night, while munching on popcorn. I thought about my cozy little apartment filled with all my mementos that give me joy.

I felt something else in that moment, something so precious that you can’t put a price on it… I felt a sense of inner peace.

It wasn’t always this way.

There was a time in my life when I hated mornings. They were filled with a whole lot of shame, guilt, and remorse. The beginning of a new day held no hope for me, only more of the same and always pretending to be something I wasn’t. My whole world was a house of cards.

That’s part of what it’s like to live with the hell of addiction, and any thoughts of going outdoors and enjoying nature were foreign to me and quickly snuffed off, even laughed at. That would require too much effort, not to mention time that I felt was better spent sleeping or, on most mornings, nursing a nasty hangover.

It didn’t help that my views on the “great outdoors” were tainted by my military service. I spent many nights sleeping in a tent, or a foxhole, in the woods. Needless to say I hated every minute of it.

It never occurred to me that camping as a civilian might be a little bit different than the Army. Nope! I wanted no part of it.

Today, clean and sober, I found a new appreciation for nature and the “great outdoors.” But, it had to first begin with finding a new appreciation of myself and of life. I had to learn to be okay with me and know that I had worth and value. I had to believe that I belonged in this world and to myself.

It wasn’t that long ago that a switch flipped in me. I was fishing with my son at a creek located in a nice secluded spot in the woods. While sitting there in the solitude a sense of peace and serenity washed over me. All the stress I was feeling just seemed to leave me, and in that moment I knew I wanted more.

Ever since that day I’ve felt drawn to nature, and it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than a simple walk in the park or fishing by a creek. It’s a gift just to be able to walk out the door and feel the fresh air. I spent to much of my life indoors, secluded, hiding from the world.

I thought to myself how different my life could have been. Life itself is a gift. I never want to take it for granted.

Today nature and the ‘great outdoors’ is a big part of my healing. It’s a part of my road home, the road to myself.

I smiled as I finished my coffee. I knew I would soon be stepping briskly and happily into my never-been-lived-before-day.

Written by Jody Morales

This is what used to come to mind when I heard the word camping:

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