I grew up in a coastal town that is home to my all-time favorite museum of modern art, Louisiana. Here the famous artist Olafur Eliasson's Riverbed installation is currently on display, which is essentially a riverbed moved indoors minus the associated living ecosystem. I have only seen a picture of it, an interesting concept for sure, and if I was in the vicinity I would certainly go and see it. Yet there is something eerie, even clinical about this installation and I do not just mean the lifeless dark rocks against the white walls but rather this idea that we have to bring nature inside in order for us to fully appreciate its beauty.
On that note, I recently listened to marine biologist Tierney Thys talk at TED about the healing power of nature. Although her application and findings are absolutely fascinating, such as exposing prison inmates to natural imagery resulting in a reduction of prison violence, I was not at all surprised. Nature, the ocean specifically, has always been my personal emotional edge remover, closely followed by hugging my son and with dark chocolate as a daily executed plan B. So after a particularly taxing work week, yielding nothing but shoulder tension and emotional fatigue, I had an inherent need to commune with nature and what better place than the Pacific Ocean.
Following a day of traditional beach bumming and boarding, we got up at the crack of dawn to hit our favorite tide pools at their lowest; a vast landscape of beautifully shaped rocks teeming with life and sound landscapes. We hiked to a nearby alcove as my son was fired up about a hidden cave and also wanted me to use the wishing wall. I was most intrigued... a wishing wall? We arrived and my son asked me to pick up a handful of pebbles and shake them in my hand until only one remained. That one, he declared, was my special pebble. I was then instructed to walk over to a striking rock wall full of tiny little holes. My son went on to explain that if I placed my special pebble in one of those holes and made a wish it would come true. So I did and for once I wished for something personal and very tangible, something that is not open to interpretation. I will tell you about it when it comes true.
We frolicked in the tide pools most of the day while the seals watched us with great curiosity and the water came back in. I bumped into a local couple who told me they came daily to look for whales as the hot weather and bountiful anchovy schools had lured them into the area off season. I relayed this information to my family while we hiked out and literally as my son responded that he wished he would see a whale... we saw one; spout spray, big tail splash and all. Absolutely divine! With that my equilibrium was more than fully restored and I will not need chocolate for days!
"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."