Back to nature.
Welcome to sparkling isolation day 5878. Oh, wait. I guess it’s just day 80 – it only feels like more. I have lost track of what day of the week it is and during the day I have a hard time keeping track of time. I have said this before, but honestly I have felt recently like I am in a dystopian remake of “Groundhog Day.”
Luckily, today was the first day in weeks that I felt a sense of something new. All summer at my job, we have half days off on Fridays. I decided to use accrued vacation time to take all of the Fridays off entirely, so my summer is full of three-day weekends.
Today, on the first day of my first three-day weekend, I finally got out of my apartment and ventured into the wider world. One of my favorite spots in the Chicago area is the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. According to their website:
Established in 1922 by Mr. Joy Morton, founder of the Morton Salt Company and son of J. Sterling Morton (founder of Arbor Day), the Arboretum encompasses 1,700 acres, including 500 acres of plant collections and gardens; and 900 acres of woodlands, prairie, meadows, lakes and streams.
It’s a beautiful place, and one that always brings me pleasure to visit. They opened back up this week for members only with specific entry times that you have to reserve in advance. I reserved an 11 a.m. entry today and finally got in my car and drove away from my house with an actual destination in mind.
I found a fantastic bench along the shores of a lake and spent a couple of hours reading. Dozens of people passed me on the path around the lake, and I exchanged pleasant “hellos” and even a few brief conversations. It was a revelation to have an actual conversation with a live human being who was physically standing there in front of me.
Video is fine for what it is, but nothing takes the place of actual human interaction. It was brief and often perfunctory for me today, but it was at least me talking to people in the flesh for the first time in ages.
I spent about four hours at the Arboretum and returned home with a surprising sense of lightness compared to how I have been feeling lately. Just the act of getting out in nature was healing for me. When I returned home, I got takeout from one of my favorite local restaurants and binge watched several episodes of the newest season of “Queer Eye” – always a certain feel-good experience for me.
Underlying so much of today, too, was the book I read while at the Arboretum. I finally read “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown. Even though this book has been around for nearly six years, I never bothered to take it off the shelf. I think sometimes that things happen when they are meant to happen, and the lessons in that book were just what I needed to read today.
I am reframing what is important to me, what is “essential,” and truly looking at new ways of moving forward as we continue through this weird, dystopian reality we are all sharing. Today, for the first time in weeks, I finally feel like I have a bit more control over my life.
Nature always heals me, and today was a powerful reminder of that fact.
It’s only Quarantine if it comes from the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.