When I was a little girl I fell in love with trees. I have a picture of 7 year old me sitting on a tree trunk, swinging her legs, eating some pie and smiling at a boy. Dare I say that this remained for a long time my own personal version of heaven?
My love of trees naturally lead me to parks. I am a NYC girl after all. I recall 10 year old me hanging out in Van Cortlandt Park. It may be interesting to note that I had apparently skipped school that day to do it. Why I really couldn’t say except that I had a lot of issues in school when I was young because I was constantly teased for being the tallest girl in the class. My nickname, because kids are oh so literal, was, you guessed it, Tree. Maybe that was a reason for me to find them lovable. In retrospect, such teasing makes today’s bullying episodes look like a walk in the park but I digress…
That day remains magical for me, surrounded as I was by a literal castle of green. I played at the water’s edge and made tea in a discarded can that in my mind was a kettle. It was so peaceful and beautiful. I think that would be my first experience of the word serenity.
Time moved onwards and I discovered the NY Botanical Gardens. Walking under the Tulip Tree Allee at the main building is still one of my favorite things ever. Even better, I loved it in the Fall when leaves added their dancing mystery to the quiet symphony of sound that is Mother Nature. I escaped my life there on many a day.
I always dug the ocean but never so much as when I began to travel. I have spent many idle hours staring at the Caribbean Sea in Mexico, puzzling over the Indian Ocean in Bali and contemplating the gorgeous Atlantic stateside, courtesy of my Northeastern upbringing.
I have had the glory of traveling alone. It was not my first choice but in retrospect I realize that these were some of the best trips I ever had because I got to listen to Me uninterruptus.
I spent 7 days in Antigua and on the second day, I found myself walking up and down the small beach fronting the hotel with my Walkman in hand. Back and forth, a slow sashay that was backed by The Roots playing “Love of My Life” which has remained my favorite song ever since.Only when I stopped and sank to the sand exhausted did I become overwhelmed with awe and a surfeit of emotion as I took in the unparalleled vision of the sea and the horizon unbroken by any man made thing. The thought which rang in my head was, “God is here.”
In that moment, I felt completely at peace and joyful. Never was I so happy as I was when I was on that trip. I felt as if I was on a constant high, loving everyone I met, feeling absolute clarity and writing with sincere ferocity – pure. I was happy in my skin and felt a groundedness that I hoped to find again and again.
For me, certain places evoke this feeling and I have learned to take advantage and hone in on self and spirit when I am there. I am always on the lookout for more but like all the best moments in life they are rare.
Interestingly enough, I am both terrified and fascinated by deep water.
It was after Antigua that I came to realize that we each find God in our own way. Church and Bible are not the only way. In fact, polluted by man, they may be the worst way. No insult to those who feel otherwise.
Is there a place that makes you feel this way?