Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

I’m Flunking an Assignment in Nature!


How does nature inspire creativity? Most of my ideas for writing come from bits of information I encounter in my reading or maybe in thought-provoking films. But recently, I was advised to seek creativity outdoors. How do I do that?

When I was younger, our family spent our vacations camping—usually beside the beach of a lovely inland lake. Even then—before the necessity of advance reservations to most camping areas—silence and a pure outdoor environment were difficult to find. Campers want hot showers, flush toilets, electricity, and paved paths. Some bring TVs. I had a roommate in graduate school who was terrified of absolute darkness because she had never experienced it before. Cities ban darkness in an attempt to make citizens feel safer.

The solution my husband and I selected was to live rurally. But most of us can’t function far enough away from a town to give ourselves an authentic outdoor experience. On our “ranch,” for example, our days clatter with the noise of gas wells, a rock quarry, and passing traffic. Sometimes the gas wells sound like a busy highway and sometimes they sound like desperate beasts. Yet at night we’re often serenaded by coyotes, owls, and passing elk. Our sky sparkles with distant stars and planets. Ingenious Nature decorates our land with trees and flowers and clever life in all sizes. During the day, birds crowd the air with their calls.

I walk everyday, taking care not to tread on horny toads or rattlesnakes. The magnificent views I see fill my heart with a surge of something like contentment or sense of place. But I don’t experience creativity. I feel energy. I feel connection. But I don’t feel creative. What am I missing?

Am I still too close to the many pollutions of “civilization?”

My husband and I used to hike into the mountains, carrying food and water and warm clothes for our rest stops. We took our time. We took our German shepherd. Most days, we didn’t encounter other hikers—although my impression is our experience is rarer these days. We found solitude. We found renewal. But we didn’t find creativity. I’m reading about the life of Henry David Thoreau, but that isn’t helping, either.

Have I been so indoctrinated by a society that embraces materialistic trends and sameness—a society which insists most questions have a single correct answer—that an essential link from my soul to the magic and mysteries of nature has shriveled? In trying to survive as comfortably, powerfully, and as well entertained as possible, has humankind lost its mission? Perhaps the deterioration of our climate and the environment we started out with has banned us from Paradise and our innocence again.

Or maybe I simply don’t understand the kind of creativity I’m seeking.

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