As I grow older, the saying “it is better to give than receive” rings truer and truer. The joy I feel watching a loved one open a gift is heartwarming. Some of the gifts fulfill a need, perhaps a new winter coat or wool socks. Sometimes the gift recalls back a favorite memory with a framed photo. Most often the present falls in the desire category providing pure enjoyment. Whether it is fulfilling a need, answering a want, or recalling a fond memory, giving feels good.
I went for a run outdoors this week to recharge my battery and enjoy the mild weather. While walking afterwards, I listened to the birds and watched the squirrels gather nuts feeling complete contentment. I thought about all the gifts I receive from the earth: food to eat, water to drink, air to breathe and fuel to stay warm just for starters. Like a young child on Christmas morning we are tearing through these gifts at an unsustainable pace and like my gift budget, there is a limit to these natural resources.
As I walked along I thought about all the wonderful memories I have of time spent outdoors. Camping with my family as a child, early morning water skiing with nieces and nephews, paddling rivers with girlfriends, horseback riding with my daughters, climbing the dunes for sunset views — nearly all of my favorite memories occurred outdoors. Many years ago, I even got engaged overlooking a scenic viewpoint with Kentucky Fried Chicken in Brown County State Park.
Whether it is watching the deer out my kitchen window or hiking to a waterfall in Yosemite, the gifts of nature refresh my spirit. John Muir captured my feelings precisely when he wrote, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
As you reflect on the past year and plans for the coming year, make time to receive more than just your needs from nature. Observe, appreciate, and recreate in your natural environment. Support a conservation organization, preserve wildlife habitat, and/or protect your natural resources. Help ensure that the next generation grows up caring about natural places by taking kids outdoors and inspiring a love of nature. Plan to spend more of your time, talents, and resources on the outdoors in 2016. Once again I guarantee you will find you receive far more than you give.