Today I walked and talked with a complete stranger and her family’s 3 senior dogs, some were her “grand puppies”, along with my senior. It was so sweet to see my dog, who at 8.5 years old was the youngest of the bunch, be perfectly content hanging out with these dogs in the same stage of life and to see her look like a puppy at this age. I am thankful for her health, vitality and friendly personality. It was lovely for my dog to have that connection of peers, like-minded others.
Dogs off leash generally will get along, whether they are in a forest or not. Nature still seems to foster a connection with them as they run along and check out the abundance of smells along the way.
How does this relate to people connecting?
If I met a person on the street with our dogs all on leashes, because they must be leashed in those areas, would I have walked and talked with them for half an hour? Most likely not.
Why is that?
In town for 1, there may not be as much space along the sidewalks with all of us to fit with leashes and things to get wrapped around. Even with her dog in the forest carrying a stick a few feet long we were able to accommodate everyone easily.
2. Noise. In town and beside roads it’s loud. Cars, crosswalk signals, people.… The forest has only quiet background noise so you don’t need to yell to be heard over anything to have a conversation. It’s pleasant birds chirping, the leaves rustling in the wind, a babbling brook…
3. It’s not so busy. In the forest, you don’t have to watch to cross the street or for lamp posts, signs, any multitude of other things. Yes, you do need to be aware of your surrounding, of roots, stumps etc, but you are already in a more relaxed state which is probably why you are in the forest to begin with.
4. And then there’s that relaxed state. You are there to relax so you are more open minded, more open to sharing, enough to even talk to a perfect stranger. I know that when I walk around town I will look up to say hi to people who walk by. Very often people are so zoned in on what they are doing, where they are going that they don’t look up, let alone say hello to the person walking past them.
Out in nature that’s different though. People seem more likely to look up and say at least a quick hi, hello, great day to be outside, or a comment about the weather, or even ask where you’re headed that day. Camping is a great example of this as well. It’s often like a very friendly neighbourhood of people who seemed to of known each other for years.
What is it that causes this connection to occur so much easier between people while in nature over people in town? Yes, there is also nature in town, we are all nature, everything is nature. I think being in a forested, natural area reminds us of this.
The trees are working together for the best of the forest. They are supporting each other, along with birds, squirrels, deer, bears, etc. They are all connected. They don’t judge each other. They accept each other for who they are and don’t try to change them. They know that their survival as a whole depends on connection.
A lone tree is less likely to thrive (Sorry to say this Big Lonely Doug, and I love you <3 ) by itself. Supported by other trees, of different species and it’s own, and supporting others, gives it strength, community, support, purpose.
Humans are no different. Nature and forests, remind us of who we truly are, what we truly need, and that is connection. We need to connect with ourselves, connect with others, connect with the Earth.
Nature helps us do that by being a perfect example of connection. We are all connected. We are nature.
I didn’t even think twice about stopping to hug a tree like I always do as I walk along this path. I wasn’t worried what this stranger might think of me, or that she may even ridicule me. I just stopped and hugged “my” tree. I even said “I’m going to go hug this tree”, and told her a bit of why this tree is special to me. And you know what she said?! She happily said, she hugs trees too!! And then we continued on with our conversation and down the path.
At one point my dog wandered off for a bit so we stopped until she came back and the 3 other dogs greeted her to see, or smell, what she’d been up to, as if to say “hey where were you? glad your back, let’s go!, just like friends would. We can learn a lot from animals too.
Animals, and young children, are much more connected to the Earth than the general population. We need to go into nature to reconnect with ourselves so we can better connect with others.
Nature fosters connection. It’s just that simple. One walk at a time, one step at a time, we can and will all get back to where we are meant to be, at peace and at one with ourselves, each other and the Earth.