Habits to Feed the Creative Soul Part 5: Connect With Nature

Apologies for finishing this series so late. My goal was to spend, at most, five weeks talking about my goals to feed my creative soul this summer, and, well… the summer is just about over, so I guess this still counts.

Over the past few months I’ve been discussing different ways that, as writers, creatives, artists in general, we can connect with our creative souls. I’ve talked about writing and creating anything that comes to mind, no matter how shitty; reading what makes you happy, dabbling in tactile creativity, and trying to avoid thinking of creating solely in terms of dollars and cents.

The fifth, and final, way I like to feed my creativity is pretty simple:

Connect with nature

I am firmly convinced that nature speaks to us, informing our souls in ways we don’t fully understand. It’s a well-agreed-upon fact that the habit of disconnecting from the hectic modern world to take a hike, see a mountain, or sit on a beach fosters better mental and physical health. In my experience, connecting with nature has improved my creative health, too.

After we moved from a more rural area to the city, I found myself craving some peace and quiet, my brain feeling overcrowded with stimuli (lockdown didn’t help!). Last year, I decided to explore some local parks, and found a large one nearby, with some picnic areas and wooded hiking trails like the ones I’d grown up exploring in my small hometown. Halfway through the summer, I made it my mission to go on 25 hikes before the weather got too cold, and although I missed the goal by five, that was still 20 hikes I wouldn’t have completed otherwise. I soon found that, alongside the physical health benefits of getting fresh air and exercise, my mind and creativity were invigorated. I had a burst of creative energy, with thankfully coincided with my final semester of grad school, just when I needed it most.

This summer, a robust hiking schedule was less interesting to me. But I still made time to get out to the park, spread a blanket over the grass, and read or write. These moments alone, in the quietness of nature, letting myself simply exist in the natural world, were incredibly restorative. There’s something that happens when you’re in nature: you feel small, humbled, less important. You remember that the world has gone on for a long time without you, and it will go on long after you are gone. You find that your worries and cares are not going to bring down the mountains, or hold back the sea, or keeps the birds from singing. It seems counterintuitive, but in this reminder of your frailty, you feel strong. Maybe this is why, in the gospels, Jesus tells us to look at the flowers and birds : they remind us that life goes on and that we are a part of it, not the fulcrum of it.

What else feeds your creative soul?

I hope that this series, prolonged though it may be, has been a helpful guide to ways we can fill up our creative cups when they are empty. I’d be interested in any tips, habits, or tools that you’ve discovered in your own creative life. What feeds your creative soul? May we always be looking for new areas to support these important aspects of ourselves.

Happy creating!

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