Nature Meditation #13 – Away from Safe Harbor

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain, Autobiography

You may have seen this quote before. I have. But every time I read it I am challenged to ‘sail away from safe harbor.’ Forget that this harbor is where we are most comfortable. I don’t think, in the greater scheme of things, that God intends us to stay in comfort. Life was designed to be uncomfortable, to be full of challenges, and full of change. Humans have the big brains, and I believe that the reason we have such brains is so that we can rise to the challenges, seek new paths, problem solve, and ultimately learn so that we can understand.

The journey of connecting with nature is not an easy one. On the one hand, nature stares us in the face with everything that we cannot control and cannot change. It represents wild animals, our possible predators. It represents natural disasters, storms, floods, volcanos, tsunamis. It represents unpleasantness – heat, cold, wind, rain. We don’t want those things.

But imagine, just for a few moments, that you cherished those things. What if, when you left the house, you delighted in the cold, the wind, the rain, the heat? What if it exhilarated you to experience something other than the heated warmth or cooled still air of the home you live in?

I’m not saying that I’m always exhiliarated by those things. I love the comfort and security of my home as much as you do. My home is my refuge, and always will be. At the same time, I can’t imagine not being able to go outside, to be unable to feel the warm south wind, the rain, the sunrays, a blast of cold air from the north. It is the prison of my nightmares. Throughout my life it has been hard for me to work in a regular office setting. Offices without windows are the worst. To be in a space for eight to ten hours a day where I do not know if the sun is shining or rain is falling depresses my soul.
And so, I elect to sail away from safe harbor. There is so much to learn, so much to explore about the natural world. I want to share it with you. I want to share my dreams and my discoveries in hopes that what I have – this nature love – is catching. Surely there are thousands around the world who have this same virus that I have. There is no cure, and hopefully, although it isn’t highly infectious, I can spread it to other people.

Meanwhile, please consider what Samual Clemens (Mark Twain) said in his autobiography. “Sail away from the safe harbor.”

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