THE GURU NEXT DOOR
I've lived in northern New Jersey for close to 40 years now and can count the time on two hands and feet that I have boated on, swam in or fished in some of the hundreds of lakes, streams, and ponds right here in my backyard.
Gazing, however, has been a daily and major occupation. I love water. I was raised in a seaside community on Long Island. It must be in my blood. Here in Montclair, where I live, I managed to find one of the few homes that is actually on water – a large pond fed by a stream with a visiting pair of herons, an armada of turtles and a persistent geese population. I'm looking at it right now and it is idyllic.
New Jersey is a treasure trove of natural resources of the recreational variety – most of which I've successfully avoided close contact with until the last few years. For more years than I care to count, my intense work schedule tossed me onto the shore of the weekend depleted and spent.There was no way I was going to deal with traffic and crowds. Things were too far away for my limited time. I didn't know where they were. I didn't have the equipment. Or the stamina. And there's the whole bug thing. Excuses, excuses.
And then life intervened and took me in a wonderful new direction with a significant other who loves to be out in nature and has the time to do it. What could I do? I rearranged my life so I could be there with him at least some of the time. And I discovered a great formula for success – look for the possibilities close to home, and pick an off time to do it.
What I have discovered is that floating in an inflatable kayak on a lake in the middle of a highly populated state – with traffic from a major highway whizzing by – with power lines humming close at hand – a motorboat approaching from the distance (thank you for slowing down) is, well ... spectacular!
Nature works its magic on me whether it's far out in the boonies, a plane ride away or an 18-mile drive to beautiful Pompton Lakes. In less than 45 minutes, door to boat launch, I can unleash my inner sportswoman and still grab a latte on the way home. That's my kind of outward-bound program.
Nature waits but you don't have to
I love that we can immerse ourselves in nature in a matter of minutes. Of course, I don't have to go to Pompton Lakes or Monksville Reservoir or Green Turtle Pond to do it. I can just walk outside into the beautiful tree-lined streets and parks of Montclair.
It all works to refresh my spirit – whether it's kayaking on a lake, hiking in the woods, hitting the beach at the shore, or just walking Charlee, my Boston terrier, in the park. In fact, I never go a day without a walk or two in Brookdale Park, which straddles Montclair and Bloomfield.
The trees there are utterly magnificent. I can't go a day now without spending time with them.
How lucky we are to live in the midst of so much accessible natural beauty. And if we don't always find the time or the inclination to immerse ourselves, we can still enjoy the fact that it is there waiting for us.
But why wait? We can also seize the moment or create the moment, to move ourselves towards the things that call to us. It doesn't have to be complicated or problematic. What's the bottom line? If you love being in nature, you don't have to think only in terms of a week or two in some vacation destination. Nature is all around you – drop in!
Drop into your own natural resources
Of course, nature may not be your thing, but the same concept applies to whatever calls you. It may be more accessible than you think. You don't have to wait until the perfect opportunity arrives for you to take advantage of anything that you're attracted to. Some things require a great deal of maneuvering to happen, but many more things are well within our daily sphere if we look for it.
A lot of us believe that anything worthwhile has to take a lot of time and effort. Our own natural inclination toward happiness and well-being is a perfect example. No matter how unhappy we get, how angry, frustrated, despondent, disenfranchised or saddened we may be, something within us always emerges to help us buoy our flagging spirit.
But if we ignore that because we believe it can't be that simple; we have to look elsewhere; it's not real, we miss an opportunity to use our essential nature to turn ourselves around.
Our own greatest natural resource is our desire to be happy. It is as reliable and accessible as the gorgeous sunlight that drenches our world every day. We don't have to wait or plan or travel great distances to get there. Like the nature outside your window, your happiness is always within reach.
For more information about New Jersey's natural resources, go to New Jersey's official website.