Nature is Cheaper than Therapy

A lot of us could use some therapy, but ALL of us could use a lot more nature.

the trail head sign at Chantry Flat, Angeles National Forest

So many of us live a hustled, breakneck, claustrophobic life in our cities and suburbs. We keep tight schedules, update our newsfeeds, take on loans, sit in traffic, breathe dirty air, update newsfeeds again, text friends, second-guess their response, update newsfeeds once more. We’ve been doing all this for so long that the accompanying stress becomes an expectation. The road rage, the FOMO, the worry, the doubt, the regret, all just another appointment on the presumed schedule of daily life.

It’s a knot of our own creation, that we then go and pay a therapist to detangle it.

Now don’t get me wrong, therapy is a worthy endeavor. I can say with certainty that all of us could benefit from a few conversations with such an unbiased observer — talking with friends (or to yourself) can only get you so far.

But if all we rely on is therapy, or self-help books, or this blog, we’re still ignoring the elephant in the room, which is the society that drives us insane in the first place.

Nature literally, physiologically, makes us feel better. Science says so. The question to answer then is: why?

It brings us back to our roots. It strips off all the modern complications disguised as conveniences. It gives us a moment of conscientious clarity. It allows space for silence in an increasingly deafening world. It is a momentary portal into a dimension of empathy that preexists within ourselves. It creates a kind of temporary dementia, where we forget about future mental traffic for a minute so we can do nothing but revel in the present peace.

Those are my own answers, your’s may be completely different, but either way we know nature gives us more than just a pretty Instagram photo — it gives us life.

“May your search through nature lead you to yourself” isn’t profound because nature suddenly answers all our questions, it’s profound because it reminds us we already know them.

May I suggest that nature will uncover those inner truths whether you like it or not. May I also suggest that that’s a beautiful thing.

Nature is my kind of therapy.

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**Urban Disconnection is a project of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument/Angeles National Forest Artist in Residence program, with the goal of inspiring Angelenos to explore, enjoy, and protect our majestic backyard.