“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows. Not the flower.” – Alexander Den Heijer
Yes, you can find happiness anywhere.
You can become it in any moment.
Because you are it.
All of it.
All of the time.
But to anyone who says that your environment, your surroundings, where you find yourself, your circumstances, don’t matter….
I say bullsh*t.
Your limited place in infinite space can help you remember your inherent bliss
…as easily as it can make you completely forget.
Which is why many of us feel a heightened sense of joy, aliveness, and connection when we go to the places that touch us deeply. We set our limbs on earth that allows us to grow. We feel nurtured, held, loved, and in that space, we can finally blossom. We feel pieces of ourselves come alive that we never knew we never knew. It feels like coming home.
Have you ever experienced that remembrance?
Have you ever found your true habitat?
I found mine five years ago in the jungle of Costa Rica, and it forever changed my life.
On new old soil I watched myself bloom faster and more beautifully than I knew I could.
If you’ve ever allowed yourself to really live in nature, to sleep and wake with the sun, flow with the moon, and talk more with trees than humans, for a day or for a lifetime, you know what I mean.
If you haven’t, I wish with my whole heart that at least once you will.
I wish with my whole heart that each and every one of us gets the chance to re-member.
Though as I write these words, I’m sitting within the four walls of my hotel room, looking at a concrete wall about three feet beyond my window, listening to my neighbor’s television set. Beyond the wall that faces me, lies another guesthouse, other windows, and more walls. Walls, beyond walls, beyond walls forming the maze of right angles that create this equilateral box.
I’m in the Old City of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Far from the wide open expanse of the Atlantic ocean and dense lush jungle that I’ve come to know as home.
And as much as I know I am a free spirit, I feel very trapped.
As many times as I have remembered my wildness, here, it’s very easy to forget.
It’s easy to bend into cultivation.
To feel less connected with my own skin.
To get used to the ache and emptiness I feel separate from the wise trees, the water’s embrace, air as sweet as flowers, and the fiery sun rising and setting over the horizon.
But I do remember something else.
Because I’ve been here before.
Yes, here Chiang Mai, but also “here” in this space of feeling like a wild animal living inside of a cage.
I experienced it the first time I ever went back to the states after Costa Rica. I experienced it the first time I came to Southeast Asia and traveled for a month in cities throughout Vietnam. I experienced it in Europe. Morocco. Kuala Lumpur. Bangkok. Even in parts of Bali. Frankly, I experience it a lot when I leave the jungle.
This trapped feeling has also become something that I remember.
Which means I can remember
that this is just my current perspective
that I’m here by choice, I can leave in a second
most importantly, that I always have the power to change my inner and outer reality in a breath.
I remember to wake up early and do yoga in my room.
To sing on my bicycle as I ride to class.
To eat as much cheap organic food as possible while I still can.
To be grateful for what is right here, right now, whatever that is.
To say “thank you” to whatever comes my way.
Remembering this helps.
No matter where in the world I am.
Because even in paradise, place can’t solve everything.
The magic of your environment only lasts if you let it awaken the magic
that’s always lived within you.
No matter how fertile the soil, the flower, you, must also be willing to grow.
Which requires facing what makes you uncomfortable.
I’d rather run my fingers across the still surface of the ocean and watch the pelicans fish at sunset.
I’d rather howl to the monkeys and let the cicadas sing me to sleep.
I’d rather sink my body into the soft, warm sand and stare up at the moon.
I’d rather be in Costa Rica.
Or kayaking beside limestone karst islands in Krabi.
Or sleeping in a bamboo hut in the mountains around Pai.
Or bathing in a waterfall in the jungle with no one but elephants around.
I’d rather be in nature
than learn to find happiness
“So… go there then,” I say.
“Get out of here.”
I shake my head because I know that I need to be here.
I have learning to do here.
Right now, this is my journey… here.
In the city.
In Chiang Mai.
And because I have given myself no option to leave for the next four weeks, I’m learning how to free myself, in ways that don’t come as naturally as running naked into the ocean or climbing up almond trees. Usually, while closing my eyes.
I’m here because I’m training to become a dance meditation facilitator. This has been my dream for years, and I’m not giving up now, as much as I want to run away to a place that feels good.
Instead, I’m moving my feet, and going nowhere. I’m learning to access magic in my mind, without nature around. To see the world with my eyes closed, as the utopia I hope to one day awaken to.
With my eyes closed I move into the depths of my own dimensions. I dance with rainbow bubbles and see the divine in my past lovers’ eyes. I melt ice castles into rose petals, with every step I take I spread my light. I lay inside of concrete boxes and let the foundation crack open and the jungle uprise. I watch dew on grass blades morph into faeries and I howl with the wolves under the full moon.
I couldn’t feel further from the natural wild, but through my dance I’m becoming the natural wild. I’m remembering how to move from instinct. How to play with my animal. How to let my body be who it wants to be.
As I move closer and closer to authenticity, I hit my own walls and I sob over my losses. I beat myself up and I run in to comfort myself. I lose myself, my mind, and I get agitated by the monkey that won’t stop chattering. Sometimes I become so free that I’m not even dancing, the dance is dancing me. Sometimes I get very stuck.
They say that wherever you go, there you are. Let me tell you, when you dance with your eyes closed, there you really are. There is no escaping you. There is no escaping any part of you. There’s nothing to look at, but you.
In this space, where the only Earth is my body, the only air is my breath, the only fire is my energy, and the only water is my sweat, I am my place. I am my location. I am my environment. I am the only thing to tend to and the only thing to receive from.
I am the garden where my flowers will flourish or die.
Which is where it begins. Nurturing and nourishing the environment that is my Self, so that I can blossom out into the world. Becoming a healthy individual, so that I can contribute to a healthy world.
With my eyes closed, moving yet going nowhere, nowhere to be but with myself, I’m finally facing the fear I left my home back in November to escape. Which is to say, I am dancing with the suffering I feel over the loss of nature, and I am dancing with the suffering I feel over my yearning for the love of a man.
I’m also dancing with the joy I feel in the presence of nature, and the softness I feel when I allow myself to surrender to love. I become my essence, as an Earth guardian. I feel the love of mother nature as the only lover I need. I relax into the peace of being content forever alone. Then another lover materializes in the form of a man. He doesn’t steal me from the love of nature, he loves her with me. Our love amplifies. A community forms around me, of other Earth lovers. We play in the magic of an absolutely enlightened, colorful, diverse, wild world. I remember the world that my heart has known all along.
Then, I open my eyes. I’m awake. Or…asleep. I’m in what we call “reality.”
I step out of the space in a state of utter surrender and bliss.
I snuggle and cuddle into a puddle with my fellow dancers.
I carry this feeling for moments as I make my way home
and watch it slowly fade with every inhale of exhaust and blinding fluorescent sign.
My nervous system goes from melted to wired with every motorbike that whizzes by.
My spirit holds me tenderly, but my animal wants to hide, break down, cry.
I panic at the thought that the whole world will become this.
Because I know that if I lose my habitat
my body and my soul
my animal and my spirit
will both die.
And in a city, I really don’t believe that any flower can survive.
I turn the corner, down the little soi where I sleep at night, and I look up for a moment.
I see the bouganvillea vines weaving their way up brick walls.
The orchids dangling from window boxes, proudly pink.
Ancient trees rooting themselves in small patches of soil, supporting all kinds of life.
Color me corrected.
With a deep breath, I offer this nature my attention.
I bow to her who still seems to bloom
I vow to give her more of my attention
until the time soon comes
when I will return to the wild.
I keep loving myself through my fear and suffering
I keep honoring nature wherever she exists.
Until the trees crack through every foundation
the vines regain their claim
the sky rains down roses
we start living again in harmony with this Earth.
Until we dwell in an environment
where all beings everywhere
have space to bloom.
Until the time comes
when we all return to the wild.
Until the time comes
when we all re-member.