In a city the horizon is short because it is between two buildings.
Think what that length is doing to your mind
Recently I've been on a cross-country road trip with a dear sister-friend of mine. We connected at the Cleveland airport, spent a day loafing at my Grandma's house ( Yay Grandma! ), and then boarded our black rental Chevy Cruz -- wide eyed and Western bound.
In the 19th Century, when city dwellers had a case of burnout from stress and working too hard (known then as neurasthenia) , doctors would literally prescribe a nature sabbatical-- where one would heal their fried nerves by frolicking in the woods, and by "connecting to their cowboy roots".
(Disclaimer: Around the same time doctors prescribed dog poop + honey to cure sore throats, so...)
As a New Yorker, nature lover, and a believer in preventative medicine, the plan was to take a 14 day mediation + writing retreat, housed in a vintage RV in Sedona, AZ.
Off the grid. Unplugged. Heavenly.
However, because life is shifty with a penchant for testing our sea-legs, our Sedona host cancelled our reservation the night before we left town. She had been fined for camping the RV illegally. (Dang.)
And so, Sedona was out.
Illegal activity is not great ju-ju to be entering a retreat with anyways, so we blessed + released the fantasy of our plan, and set our coordinates for Santa Fe.
New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment.
A few dodgy motel rooms, wacky roadside attractions and epic sunrise drives later, I'm here nestled in the mountains of Santa Fe, thanking our Sedona host for canceling.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It's a blessing as much as a prayer.
The land in Santa Fe feels both fertile and grounding. It's a place where raw quartz and red rocks litter the ground, where the air is dry and restorative and trees are triumphant trapeze artists-- their roots anchored into boulders, suspended sideways on cliffs.
I feel physically different here. Parched and dusty from the elevated desert air, yes-- but also more connected. Open. Appreciative. And in love with the wide horizon.
Being in the massive, majestic mountains has always had a way of revealing my spectacular smallness in all the best ego-shrinking, heart expanding ways.
I'm both tiny and part of it all. It's refreshing. Mother Nature's Perspective Tonic.
Each time I travel, I think of a story that's referenced in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, from a time when the founder Chogyam Trungpa went on leave. Upon his return a student asked "How was your vacation?" to which Chogyam Trungpa responded "Vacation from what?"
The moral here is that we can never truly vacation because we always take ourselves with us. Our hopes, fears, and desires are stowaways. Just mapped on to a different landscape.
However I do believe that a change in scenery has the potential to shift our view. That there's a real connection between our beliefs and our exposure.
Just ask anyone who hasn't met a certain type of person what they think about that type of person. It's probably not pretty.
Lack of exposure breeds biased beliefs. Nothing can grow in an air-tight container.
(Which is one win for 19th century science, at least.)
Our outlook is the the scene that stands before us.... and it's also a person's general attitude towards life.
Our perspective is where we're physically located, looking at the scene around us... and it's also our relationship to the experience.
Inner // Outer :: Intrinsic // Extrinsic :: View // View
The sweet interplay between Self and World.
Of course that doesn't mean I'm a different person in Santa Fe, to Chogyam Trungpa's point.
However, the physical view from our lush and dusty mountain side has amplified elements that are already there.
The outer view looks connected; grounded to rock and earth. And so that potential I have to feel grounded and connected is similarly amplified within.
The view is open and spacious, with a panoramic horizon. And so my potential to open is activated. My interior horizon reflects that space.
The view is a manifestation of nature's appreciation for life. And so, my appreciation of life is heightened; witnessing it in the landscape makes it so within.
Or as they say in Christian faith: As above, so below.
It's all just sweet, sweet interplay. A reflection of view on view
As I get ready to leave our lovely casita retreat for the next leg of our road trip, I'm reminding myself it doesn't just apply here. That a pretty tree-lined block, a rooftop, a bridge--or any access to the sky, and a clean desk with fresh cut flowers can be equally healing views.
We owe it to ourselves to find them: These outlooks that amplify our outlook-- in both mundane and medicinal ways.
Onward and Upward,