Looking Up: How Nature Can Help Us

Secrets to Living an Excellent Life

I was whirling out of control. Up through the leaves, up towards the clouds, even into space towards the cottage cheese moon. My mind soared as my eyes looked skyward.

How Nature can help us

The creek was bobbing with human flesh. The family lashed together on their rafts in front of me sang a spirited tune in Spanish. The Korean family upstream had two teenage boys sleeping in their daisy chain of plastic tubes. We were in a silent, still pool amidst the noise. My son, John, and I just reclined wordlessly. As I twirled in my tube, I looked up.

The blue sky was that glacial blue you see when glacier cracks and the crevasse lets everything escape but THAT one blue. In a mimicry of those glaciers of the north, the white clouds blew overhead like snow drifts. And I wondered.

I wondered at the beauty of the blue. I also wondered: how many people look up? I can’t remember the last time that I looked up and watched the cotton balls tumble through the air. I usually just look up when thunderheads loom.

But there it was, as pretty a blue sky as you’ll ever see. It went completely unnoticed by almost everyone on that creek, including me. I was almost halfway down before I looked up and gasped at the glory.

But that is what we humans do. We notice the thunderheads. We notice the lightning. We look at the rocks in the creek. But we rarely look up.

The twenty-something days of the year that are dark and overcast get lots of furtive glances up. But when we have perfect weather, what do we do? We look at everything else. Here we are, celebrating a joy-dance amidst sun showers and everyone on this creek is completely ignoring the masterpiece hovering over our heads.

Fair weather doesn’t deserve notice. Or does it? Why do we only notice the foul?

We look up only when we have problems?

The direction we stare is true on so many levels. For we look up at the sun and the sky to bemoan our troubles. We also look up to God when we have towers falling and cancer calling. Rarely do we lift up our eyes in gratitude for the blue-sky days that tumble through our lives like children down a brand new slide.

When I was a child, I would oftentimes lay in the grass and watch the clouds. I saw the birds fly overhead. Sometimes a cricket would jump right over my forehead. As the tall grass blew around me, I’d smell the robust fragrance of the grass, honeysuckle, and sandy south Georgia soil. I might jump up in pain when a red ant meandered over my foot and stopped for a bite beside the freckle on my fourth toe. But, I would look at the clouds. I looked up.

Those were happy times. Sure, I had the stress of school. I had the stress of being left out and bullied. But somehow, I had the sky. And if I had the sky and knew that the Creator of that massive sky knew me, then I was OK.

And so, today. Life is looking up.

I’m not sure why,

but I think

it has to do







Nature can lift your mood and has a particularly powerful impact on children. Learn how nature can help us. A fantastic read on this topic is Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. As humans, getting into nature can help us handle grief, stress, and so much. I hope you'll take time to get out in nature. While I haven't cited research, the positive impact of nature is very real.

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2 thoughts on “Looking Up: How Nature Can Help Us

  1. I look up on the back porch every midnight with Moose and Cocoa and tell the sky about my gratitude for a perfect wife, daughter, friends and job.

  2. Agree! I try to work in some literature focused on nature during summer school to encourage my students to engage in exactly this sort of reflection. They are so busy and their lives are so chaotic, it is vital that someone encourages them to stop and – sometimes quite literally – smell the roses.