When I was a little girl, my sister, Dee, and my cousin, Jules, and I spent an entire summer dancing to the song “Colors of the Wind,” the theme song from the Disney movie “Pocahontas.” We choreographed a routine and performed it over and over for the same family audience, twisting ourselves into the shape of sycamore trees and singing “with all the voices of the mountains.” To this day, it remains a special song from my childhood.
Even before this movie came out, the three of us girls enjoyed spending our time outside among the trees, rocks and water like Pocahontas sang about. “Princess Rock” in Grandma’s yard might have looked like just a really big rock, but to us it was a castle, a ship and a place where we shared our dreams.
I’ve been lucky enough to spend recent summers with Jules, reviving good times from summers past, even now at 26 and 30. In fact, not much has changed when it comes to the recreational activities we pursue.
For the last two summers, Jules and I have spent a week with friends and family on Lake Champlain, Vermont. We don’t do much else besides swim, read good books on the shore with our toes in the water, and climb the rocks on the water’s edge. This slow pace of living comes easy and I’m in a constant state of peace. I thought this peace was coming from the fact that I was connecting to those childhood summers and the way we spent them. Indeed, what was so enjoyable was the fact that we were soaking up Mother Earth the way we did as kids. But I’ve come to realize it’s Mother Earth and not my childhood itself, that my being yearns for.
Like most people, Jules and I get sucked into the daily grind where there’s schedules, errands, obligations and deadlines. On vacation, we talk about how nice it feels to let go of that and just look out at the water. To listen to the sounds of the water lapping against the shore. To feel the breeze pick up before the rain storm comes through. To lay on our backs and look up at the stars. To meditate on “Relaxation Rock.” To watch the day begin, and end, before our eyes. When the week is over, I struggle to describe to others how serene each moment is and how connected I feel to the earth. Choosing to spend my vacation week recharging my batteries in this way has now come to feel like it’s my way of almost giving back to the earth. It’s how I show appreciation for my existence here.
Earth Day is celebrated today worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. While remembering to reduce, reuse and recycle in our daily lives is so important, having a peaceful existence and having little impact on Mother Earth can also mean sometimes all you need to do is be quiet and observe. Think of it as your Earth Day commitment. If you want to feel more connected to the earth as your way of showing appreciation for her, here are 10 things you can do today.
1. Wake up to watch the sunrise (if you missed today, you’ve got tomorrow!)
2. Listen to the birds
3. Notice all the different animals that cross your path and try to think about where they’re going
4. Close your eyes and turn your face toward the sun (even if it’s cloudy, the sun is still up there)
5. Have a tall glass of water (preferably eight) and think about where it came from
6. Visit a waterfall, a stream, a field, a rock formation or anything that exists on its own in nature, and think about how it got there
7. Turn the music off in the car (and by all means put down the cell phone) to listen to the world go by on your commute
8. Keep your eyes open in anxious anticipation of seeing wildlife (spotting an eagle is rare, but when you see one it’s like Christmas morning)
9. Stand outside and inhale deeply to fill your lungs with fresh air while taking in the sweet smells of Earth
10. Stop what you’re doing to watch the sunset
Happy Earth Day!