Calm

The television advertisement shows a green plant with its leaves wet from a gentle rain that is the over sound. It is a pleasant and calm scene in which the viewer is asked to do nothing  for a fifteen seconds as a circle winds down the time. The viewer is told that she can download the Calm app for free. When I pulled the Calm,com app up on my phone I read the following: “Calm is The #1 App For Mental Fitness, Designed To Help You Manage Stress. Sleep Better And Live A Happier, Healthier Life. Try Calm For Free Today.”

Wow. All that in capital letters promising a better and happier and healthier life.

Now, I did not load the app onto my phone. My decision is not against an app that promises to calm me and help me manage the stress in my life. It is not, simply put, something that would be of use because I can walk out into our front yard or back garden and be calmed by the sounds of nature.

For instance, during my morning stationary ride  on the screened porch I was gifted enough calming sights and sounds to last the day. A red-bellied woodpecker repeatedly flew from one of the dogwood trees to a feeder returning each time with a sunflower seed to crack open in a crevice of  dogwood bark; the camellia bush held its first deep red bloom in its rich, green foliage; nuthatches scampered up and down the dogwood in a search for grubs or the rights of mating; a high breeze caressed the pine tops; cawing crows glided above us all on a mission known only to them; and  much more. As I rode my five miles, I registered all of this and more because I accepted nature’s gift of the morning, knowing that I may need it later during my day as a reminder of things larger than my life and me.

Modern technologies amaze me, and I use one right now as I type this on my computer. My computer program will correct much of my poor spelling, make suggestions for grammar, and automatically store all these words in whatever folder I  choose. That is convenient and truly awe inspiring. However, all of this cannot compare with the wind passing through the high reaches of the pines or that woodpecker gliding from tree to feeder and back. No machine, “intelligent” or not, can compete with the nuthatches that live in or visit  our back garden.

Yet our culture has evolved into one that is constantly searching for and creating mechanical ways to improve our lives. Our culture is one in which many folks while exercising supply themselves with mechanical means to shut out the world as they walk, ride, or run. It is as if the sounds of nature are invasive, so a chosen man-noise is deemed better than the sounds of nature; even when exercising in an urban area nature is present but will never be heard while captured in a man-made system of noise.

Calm is good, and the Calm.com app is pleasing. Who would not like the rain falling on leaves or more. But we do not need to create it or record it. We just need to walk outside and look for it. Nature waits for you.

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