Thunder

Trying something a bit different today…forgive the amateur quality of this particular post.

She looks up, as the sky weeps unto the land. Across distant treetops cloud-light flashes, creating a brief, but mesmerizing, display, the spotlights of a hundred stadiums brightening the sky all at once. She turns her attention downward as the crackle of thunder roars at her, a roar somehow hitting her from all sides. On the stone below her droplets hit, seemingly bouncing back up for a millisecond before settling in with the rest of the gathering water, making way for the thousands more drips to come after it. On the bare earth, however, they disappear, sinking into the brown abyss.

Another stadium display lights the clouds above her, turning her attention back upwards, where the partially stripped trees sway, unhinged but for their roots. An orange-brown leaf flicks at her forearm; she feels its leathery, veined touch before it flies away to join its multicolored companions. Roar, the sky hurls at her again, yet closer this time.

Leaves crackle and squelch underneath her boots as she makes her way forward, the occasional pocket of mud being hidden in the covered forest floor. A third flash, brilliantly creating a silhouette of trees above her, a half-second from a ’50’s horror flick.

She knows its coming this time, she braces herself for it.

It doesn’t help. This roar is louder than any ones prior to it, so loud she’s certain there’s no way they could get more deafening. She knew it was coming, but it still bites into her, assailing her, beating at her chest harder than her own heart. It almost hurts.

She realizes she can’t beat this. Knowing another roar is inevitable only makes it worse. Nature itself is a force of nature, and no strength of will can stop an unrelenting force.

……

Right?

Winter Wonderland 

In which our hero snaps pictures with his definitely not fancy camera

As I’m sure you’ll be able to tell by the unprofessional quality of these pictures, I am by no means a photographer. I have a few photo-savvy friends, with hundreds to thousands of followers on Instagram, with their fancy, expensive cameras and lenses, which they edit every night on their computers, making sure every inch of every photo is flawless (picture-perfect, you might say. Ha! …sorry). I don’t have any of that stuff; no fancy camera, no crazy editing program, and certainly very little knowledge on what makes a photo “good.” But, I can appreciate a beautiful photo when I see one, even if I can’t take many myself.

So, for that reason, I want to post a few photos I took today of the beautiful snow coming down in the little Illinois town where I currently reside. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I appreciate nature immensely. I can appreciate a dark, stormy day just as much as a clear sunset over the ocean. And I don’t care if you hate driving in it, you can’t deny snow looks super purrrrty. I’m a sucker when it comes to pretty-looking scenery.

– Ryan

(Literally) A ray of sunshine

FInd your comfort in a mad world

So day three of ‘working’ this blog, and I’ve kept loyal to it thus far. Honestly, I’ll be really impressed if I hit a month. I’ve always loved writing, and the fact that it took me so long to take to a blog as a means of releasing emotion is quite shocking, really. Every day I’ve been looking forward to coming back to this medium, not just to write and share my own experiences, but to read yours and hopefully understand the world a bit more.

So, depression. Anxiety. Two small words that have the capability to turn a good day into a bad one, spilled milk into a flood. Clearly there isn’t any one commonly accepted answer to deal with either burden. Therapy, medication, spirituality…everyone with a condition such as depression or anxiety has something different to help ease the pain day-to-day (if they’ve found it).

You know what the beautiful thing is, though? Once you do find that ‘thing,’ that outlet of release or calming influence, there’s nothing quite like it. In a world constantly portrayed as negative, condescending, and dark, to have that something (or in some lucky cases, multiple things) that helps you feel like your life isn’t plagued by an illness so many fail to understand, it’s nearly miraculous. For me, a guy who most certainly is one of those aforementioned people to turn spilled milk into a flood, I wouldn’t trade my source of comfort for anything. What is that source of comfort? For me, it’s nature.

No, I’m not a tree-hugger, as I’ve been so lovingly called before. I don’t live in a hut in the woods made of birch trees and pinecones, and I don’t sustain myself on nuts and whatever berries grown in the ravine I’ve built my hut next to (for protection against bears, obviously). But I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that since my depression and anxiety have manifested, never have I had a more calming moment than when I’ve been standing outside. A lot of it comes back to my spiritual beliefs, but I don’t want to get into that right now (or anytime soon, most likely) – in my experience, the only thing I’ve found more dividing than politics is religion. Don’t get me wrong, in my closest group of friends I’m considered the most ‘religious’ (even though I hate that word). I’m very clear on what I believe. At its best, common spirituality among groups of people creates a sense of unity the likes of which are rarely seen otherwise. At it’s worst, religious differences start wars, and on a more personal level, create divides between individuals. So, while getting into my spirituality would fall into the realm of relevance of this topic, I won’t really touch on it more yet for the aforementioned reasons.

Anyhoo, nature. Dirt. Ocean. Trees, sand, mountains, the less-travelled path, I love it all. I’ve seen a few posts on here about people who get so anxious in public they have to take measures to A.find some sort of mental distraction whilst out and about or B. not go out in public unless absolutely necessary. That’s one of the great things about isolation in nature for me – the squirrels in the woods or the worms in the dirt aren’t going to judge you because your social anxiety prevents you from performing as well in a public situtation as others. The leaves of the trees will still turn their beautiful autumn hues year after year regardless of how much you’re worried about what person #37 that day said to you.

Nature is my constant. People can change, relationships can fluctuate, jobs are often a means to an end, and looking to food as your source of comfort generally won’t get you anywhere good. But the earth will keep spinning no matter how many people may will for it not to. Gray, dreary clouds won’t be in the sky every day, sunshine will break through no matter how furious the storm the night before. I’m so, incredibly comforted by the presence of something so whole, so changing but at the same time so fluctuating, that you know it will be there when you step outside. The sky. The sun. Trees, dirt, flowers, wildlife, fields, rivers, mountains, it’s all still going to be there. If you imagine the wind as breath, then the planet as a whole is just as alive and feeling as all of us are. It won’t let anything but the strongest of presences destroy it – not even the swaying of the body through billions of miles of space can knock a sapling out.

For those of you gagging from the cheesiness of that last paragraph, fair enough. I didn’t make this post with the intention of saying “go outside and make snow angels and you’ll be all better.” This is just my personal example of that comfort. The one thing that draws me into a good place, out of the darker, far too influential corners of my mind that tell me I’m not enough, tell me to worry. So, dear reader, I implore you – if you haven’t already, find that comfort, that constant that lets you know everything isn’t all that bad. It’s okay. You’re okay. Music, writing, swimming…I can’t even begin to list all of the possibilities for what might make you feel good. Only you can figure that out, and you’ll only know by doing. Don’t let thinking “this takes up a lot of my day,” or “nobody will get why I do that,”stop you. Do this for you. Taking care of others is all well and good – great, even – but you matter just as much. You have an obligation to yourself to let yourself be happy. 

Don’t be afraid to let me know if you want to talk – about this or anything. Who knows, your comfort could be confiding in others who know what you’re going through? Stay happy, everyone.