Continuing with my quasi philosophical exploration of happiness with ME/CFS, I've been discussing the issue with members of various message boards. To that end, several people have recommended that I try to "enjoy nature," or variations on that theme. Instinctively, I wanted to dismiss these suggestions on the assumption that one must be healthy and energetic to enjoy nature. At least, that seems to be the only way I know how to relate to nature. But people kept suggesting "nature" as a path to happiness, over and over - people who were obviously sick like me. So I was forced reexamine my assumptions.
This afternoon, I experienced a small moment of realization.
This may seem obvious to others, but it wasn't to me: there are many different ways to commune with nature. For 35 years, the only way I've known how to relate to nature is as a sort of 'conqueror' - for lack of a better term - by demonstrating some sort of mastery over it. Most of my experiences with nature involved participation in various sports. I harnessed waves on a surfboard. I negotiated mountainsides on a snowboard, and I jogged through wooded areas. On camping trips I chopped, I gathered, I built, and I kindled -- all very active ways to engage nature. So ingrained was this way of thinking that I hadn't even considered other ways to enjoy nature.
I realize now that there's nothing stopping me from experiencing nature, for instance, as Monet did - as a palette of colors. Or as Ansel Adams. Or John Muir. Or Emerson. Or Thoreau. Or even Darwin. Or countless others who made careers and reputations simply from the way in which they enjoyed nature...passively. As observers.
The point is, my old manner of connecting with nature was a young man's manner. I probably would have outgrown it in the next decade anyway. As we grow order, our relationship with nature matures. There's nothing preventing me from maturing now, a few years ahead of schedule. So that's what I intend to do. Who's path I'll follow, I'm not exactly sure yet, but I'll make sure I personalize it and make it my own.