Nature Is My Playground.
As a child, I was taken by the beauty of the planet. Surrounded by nature, my home on the island of Kos in Greece, was a perfect one.
No neighbors, sheltered among nothing more than large overgrown trees, sand dunes, and the ocean. Just a few steps away, abundant flowers and plants everywhere, my fascinating friends, the insects all around, numerous cats and dogs running around all the time. For me, a nature spirit, it was heaven on earth!
Living in complete freedom, free to be who I am, what I want, away from rules and regulations. It was so much fun, I got to experience growing up being able to be me, as almost all my time was spent by choice in nature alone, observing, learning, being, feeling one with everything around me, in bliss… happiness.
I always observed in fascination.
Once in a while, we would leave our space to go to the local village store. And how fun that was! It always meant a little treat was on the way! In terms of sugar — sacred to me. In the form of an ice cream, bubble gum, chocolate bar, lollipop or chips. Every visit to the store was exciting to me.
Walking across the land, or the farmers’ fields, and sometimes along the beachfront to visit the village, with my brother or alone, so we could play with the other children of the village. There was no age restriction, all the children would gather and play together, we would not separate.
We all worked together, made decisions together, made up rules, surrendering to playfulness. There were no adults over us to supervise and tell us what to do. There was no need. We learned on our own. We were safe on our own. Sometimes we played until all hours of the night. There was no fear or worry, from the parents or us.
There was no danger. Nothing but an occasional fall or scrape.
There was unity, independence, and above all, freedom. Then the time would come to return back to my sanctuary, to me… my home. My days were spent outdoors playing with the dogs and cats (sometimes sleeping with them in their doghouses). Every night I would fall asleep to the sound of the waves.
Observing the insects in the garden, rolling down the sand dunes, climbing the trees, swimming in the ocean. This was everyday life.
I got to live in the moment, in touch with myself, untouched by the world around me and its various realities. A time where life was simple, people closer, away from the modern ways, the more depersonalized way of life, making it busy, stressful, more objects, tools needed to go about our daily life and keep us occupied.
Sure we had toys, watched cartoons, however most of the time it was unnecessary, we remained connected. The best of both worlds. I was lucky… I feel blessed. I got to experience a different reality. Most importantly, I got to be who I was.
I now wonder, look around, the way of life seems a bit disconnected, depersonalized. Stores everywhere! 20 different choices of shampoo… it seems the more options we have the more we need. People pass each other untouched, preoccupied by rules, regulations, obligations, duties that have been imposed by others.
Too busy to be, to enjoy, to live… a birthday party to plan, a bill to pay, an appointment to run to, busy… busy… busy. We become robots, running through life to get this and that done.
We instill roles and personalities to ourselves which are not us, more and more we become disconnected from who we truly are… molded by the world, society, and people around us. We lose base. No time to do what we enjoy. Whose life are we living? Surely not ours.
The seldom times we get to be out in nature, we get to touch base once more with who we are. Only then, when we return back into society, to forget and get caught up in the roller coaster.
We drink, take drugs, engage in harmful activities, and seek external pleasures. We become extremists in our views, clinging obsessively to a particular religion, culture, group, fearing diversity, uniqueness, trying to fill that hole, threatened by anyone who can take down that shield we so tightly hold on to.
Or we put up a great big wall, shielding our emotions, nothing coming in, nothing out. Why? Because we have lost touch with who we are. We have been disconnected, unbalanced… diffused. We seek to be whole once more. Disconnected from nature and our nature, with personalities which have been imposed on us.
Caught up in a system which is one’s system not caring about anyone’s individuality. Personality has no standing; it is all about duty, imposed roles, otherwise made to feel guilty. Expression hindered, emotions locked in, followed by destruction. Destruction of self, the environment… others.
We are so preoccupied with the self, its return, filling the hole, that we become numb, oblivious to everything and everyone around us. We cannot care, be concerned, about a tree being cut down, an animal maimed, nor a human put to shame. No, we are too busy trying to fill the emptiness… we become selfish.
If we are not ourselves, in touch with who we are, expressing, we will never be whole. In turn, the world will never be whole. It begins with each one of us individually. Taking time to be consciously aware, from that we become consciously aware of everyone else around us, we can be present in the moment. That is the key… being present.
If we were always present, there would be no fighting, no wars, conflicts, or destruction. It starts within us, and from there everything else comes, only then can we know love. If we are present, we can feel the other, be with the other; we would not create that separation, that barrier, that can lead to violence.
It is not an easy task to step away from all the conditioning. It takes time and effort. Nevertheless, it is an exciting adventure to dive in and discover yourself… to be yourself. Whose fault is it? No one’s in particular, although it is a battle with our self. It is the battle we are fighting individually, but at the same time as a whole.
Individuality brings true unity, community, love, sharing… being present.
What connects us to ourselves is also individual. For one, it may be nature, the other, contemplation, for yet another, the playing of a musical instrument, dancing, singing, making, or building something. Each has its own unique way of expressing, tuning, experiencing, and that is okay.
No one can discover what that is than us, no one can live our lives for us, solve our problems. It is our responsibility and ours alone… and what a beautiful journey it is. Discover yourself, and in turn, discover the world. Do not hold back, suppress, otherwise only misery, anger, depression occurs.
Accept yourself and everyone around you. Lift the veil of fear, free yourself from your mind, the mind which is not us but conditioned by the world around us. We must feel, own our emotions, be honest. Just be, and then we are free.
Gaia (Γαία) Giakalli is a therapist, writer, photographer, dancer, cultural anthropologist and nature-dweller. She loves creativity, and nature, especially trees. Her passion is connecting people with nature, in which she has spent most of her life in solitude, contemplating and enjoying its wisdom, and empowering people to be their authentic selves, reconnecting them to their true essence and calling in life. You can connect with her on her website, Facebook or Twitter.