Closer to Nature, Closer to Joy

There was a moment of happiness when I found the air I breathed in could be so crisp and sweet like never before. There was a moment of achievement when I discovered that the scenery was worth every trek step. There was a moment of understanding when I realized that the furthest way toward a healthier life is the first step put forward. There was a moment of touch when it struck me what a wonderful world we live in. There was a moment of epiphany when I found that I could build a tighter connection with people in my life.

All these feelings originated from the moment when I embraced Nature with my friends. When I recall the experience, one sentence comes to my mind: Closer to Nature, closer to joy.

It would be the first impression for everyone when talking about getting closer to Nature that our physical health benefits from it. And that is the physical joy it gives us. Proven scientific evidence, as well as my personal experience, both support it.

Firstly, getting closer to Nature, especially hiking in mountains or forests, helps us improve our heart and lung function. Most of the outdoor activities are aerobic exercises. And numerous scientific research has shown that moderate and routined aerobic exercise could help us obtain stronger hearts and lungs, fostering our cardiopulmonary function. And in my hiking experience, I could feel my heart beat stronger and more rhythmic during and after the activities.

Secondly, being closer to Nature helps us build more solid muscles and robust joints. As a so-called “cooperate slave,” most of an employee’s daily work was done sitting and merely with the movements of the fingers. This kind of sedentary lifestyle could potentially threaten the overall health status. However, when we submerge in the wild and sunshine, almost all of our muscles and joints are activated to climb the rock to reach a higher altitude. Therefore, a more beautiful body line and reliable knees are the rewards given back by Nature.

The joy of better physical well-being benefits the body, but the joy of inner peace nourishes the mind. It seems that Nature has the magic power of healing mental struggles and tension, and sometimes this offering is more precious. Scientific research has also proven that the brain will calm itself down when we are surrounded by the natural environment. As I mentioned in the beginning, I felt a complete release of psychological tension when I saw the picturesque natural scenery. As I breathed in the fresh air, all the worries and anxieties disappeared without a trace. At that moment, I began to understand why so many poets chose to convey emotions through scenery description. “Here are tall mountains and majestic peaks, trees with thick foliage and tall bamboo. Here are also clear streams and gurgling rapids, catching one’s eye from the right and left.” That is the renowned poem “Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Collection” by Wang Xizhi. For those who have embraced Nature, it would be easy to share that joy with the poet. It is a kind of resonance that transcends time and space.

Above the physical and psychological joy, it is undeniable that we will gain the joy of appreciation and gratitude from getting closer to Nature. Walking among the trees, stepping on the paths whether they’ve been paved or not, a deep appreciation began to arise in my heart. I was stunned by the breathtakingly beautiful scenery that the Creator had created. Everything is like a musical note in a symphony, everything is in harmony, and luckily, I am also one of those musical notes. Reaching the top of the mountain is like that symphony comes to its best part: piles of hills and mountains covered with golden leaves stretch to the infinite, all bathing in the warm autumn sunshine. Suddenly, I understand that Nature also teaches us the meaning of appreciation. As human beings, we are tiny in the universe. But by magical chance, a group of friends among six billion people on earth could get together to receive the best blessing life has to offer. At that moment, we are not alone, and life is meaningful.  

Dear friends, embrace Nature more often with your family and friends. To exercise, to explore, and to discover the joy. Closer to Nature, closer to joy. And just as Gary Synder has said, Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.

The scenery of the Horn Valley Gate (喇叭沟门), Beijing, PRC

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