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by Angela Kelly Ph.D.

         Whenever I think of the great out of doors, I immediately think of my favorite word - wild. There is a beautiful quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson “Live in the sunshine, Swim in the sea and Drink the wild air.” It pretty much sums up the feeling that being in nature offers anyone who gives themselves the gift of immersing oneself in all the beauty of the natural world.
One definition of wild is occurring, growing, or living in a natural state; not domesticated, cultivated, or tamed. Oh yeah, I like that! Sure beats just existing, stagnating and living in a way that is completely contrary to all of your intuition, dreams, hopes and gifts.  There is often confusion which gives the false impression that the idea of wild is a state of rebellion. In my experience, wild is a state of living out your destiny. Living in harmony with the out of doors is our destiny. If you think man ultimately can do anything else, just go down to the ocean, stand on the shore and try and stop a wave. It is our birthright to be wild and live in our natural state. Time spent out of doors reinforces this belief.
I spend a lot of my life with horses. I ride them, I volunteer at an Equine rescue that saves them, and I travel to photograph the wild ones to bring awareness to their fragile circumstances in a world that favors development over their very existence. Wild horses running free are one of the most incredible sights in nature. I know this because I have seen it often and have felt the tears run down my face because there was something so breathtaking and moving about witnessing firsthand such graceful animals in all their majesty. For those of us who are enamored with anything in the physical  world and spend a lot of our time out of doors, there is a compulsion to bring attention to the importance of preserving all of its’ beauty to insure that our children’s children can have the privilege of experiencing it in their lifetime too.  

I once heard a wise man describe what he called “nature deficit disorder”. He jokingly said “We are living in a time where the virtual world is more of a home to many than their own back yard.“ I see this in places where people are obsessed with trivial things that seem important and are part of our culture’s vision of success.  There is a huge attachment to living within the confines of the man made world’s dogma. Would it not be a great full circle moment; if everyone seeking a better life could realize that all you need to find it is to open your front door and go outside and start to really look at what is there. When my son was a baby, he had colic and would wake up crying very upset. One night, I walked him outside on the front porch under the trees dancing in the wind and with a full moon shining on both of us; he almost immediately calmed down and fell asleep. It worked so well with him that I did it most of his infancy. Some of us seem to recognize at a very young age the peace that comes from the connection to nature.
I am an artist, so my spirituality is truly based on the belief that whatever made us all was pretty handy in the masterpiece making  category. Like the Native American culture, I believe in a Great Creator; one who paints a sunset every single evening of your entire life.  The nightly art show found in the sky, like Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting, reminds us that there is a benevolent force that is over us literally.  This example inspires me to watch over nature the way my Grandparents and Parents taught me by understanding that it is a gift and a privilege to be alive and to drink in all the beauty of the out of doors and never forget that it is our responsibility to act out our gratitude by preserving it. Fresh air and sunshine and interacting with animals and nature in many forms often cures depression, grief, anxiety, and many other illnesses.

Interestingly, it takes some of us longer than others to get to the place of knowing that a peaceful heart is not the result of attaining, succeeding, gathering material possessions or winning anything at all. In fact, it is truly the profound knowing that occurs when you completely realize that the power that made us really just wants us to enjoy our lives, take care of each other and watch nightly the magnificent art show in the sky.  The path to a peaceful heart is one that is focused on the serenity found in the out of doors. It is after all an astounding opportunity to become stewards of the greatest masterpiece ever made, found in nature-all that is wild!

as seen in Cassidy: Winter 2013

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