Work periodically brings me to the city of Martinez, California. On my last trip to this city, I learned that naturalist and conservationist John Muir, the first president of the Sierra Club, lived in Martinez with his wife and two daughters. This might have triggered a subconscious craving for some one-on-one time with nature.
Fighting a growing sense of burnout, I fled to Napa Valley this weekend. On a mission to flush out the crud in my mind, I purposely drove down roads I didn’t know. In my search for places I hadn’t seen before, I also rediscovered places I hadn’t seen in more than 10 years.
Pretty views from the car weren’t going to cut it, so I trekked through mud in search of vistas that would make my brain fire up synapses and light up like a Christmas tree. In my knee-high leather boots with rubber soles I was undaunted by the feeling of squishy earth rising up to meet my ankles.
Gradually receding into the far back corners of my mind were news stories about sexual assaults and building walls; discussions about emails and private servers; worries about what the future holds for some of my clients; and reminders to pick out new cabinets and counter tops for my kitchen update. None of these things were going away, but they were being relegated to their proper places. A healthy perspective was being ushered back to the head of the line.
In the peaceful, open spaces of hills and vineyards, my mind quieted and emptied itself. My reset button clicked. Problems and crises shrank down to their real size, ceasing to be the giant monsters that were stalking me. My body purged the toxic chemicals caused by tension and worry. My muscles loosened, releasing their grip on my joints, and allowing my body to flood my lungs with air.
John Muir wrote, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” (The Yosemite, 1912.) These words proved true for me this weekend, as they have countless times before, and as they will for countless times to come.
©Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2016.