“Later that night I held an atlas in my lap, ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered ‘where does it hurt?’. It answered everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.”-Warsan Shire
I’ve always found inspiration in nature. A tree growing out of a boulder can be a quiet example of resiliency and fortitude. A river slowly carving a canyon through a mountain over the course of millennia can be seen as a lesson in patience. Both of these seemingly small forces of nature are entirely unaware that they create a permanent change in the landscape around them. Nature proves that life is struggle, and that beauty comes from that struggle.
I found myself seeking retreat in nature again this weekend. My heart broken, and filled with negativity, I set out for a weekend of hiking. I chose hikes known for their steep grades and drop offs because in my mind, this just might be my last day on earth. Onward I trudge, my usual delight with hiking replaced by a crushingly persistent internal dialogue constantly reminding me of the hurt and betrayal I feel, reminding me that I’m disposable, that I’m unlovable, and that the person who broke my heart may just discover that they made a mistake upon learning of my demise (I wish I was joking about my logic here). Quickly the thoughts morph into reminders that I’ve not really done any good for anyone, that I’m a burden, and that everybody would be better off without me. The thoughts continue to swirl and I can feel myself losing control of my mind again. People I once loved have now become archenemies in my mind. I have nothing left, my life is just complete devastation.
That’s when I decided to climb a volcano.
I pulled my car to the side of the road and set off, up the rocky trail. Loose, black remnants of ancient pyroclastic flow shift and clank beneath my feet. The trail is rough and uneven and my attention is forced from dwelling on my hate to successfully placing one foot in front of the other without injury. After all, the last thing I want is to be injured to the point where I can’t make it to the top of this cone and throw myself off. As my attention shifted more and more to the landscape, I began to notice the beauty wrought forth from past destruction. Growing up out of mounds of black lava rock, green tufts of grass and vibrantly colored wildflowers sway in the breeze, blissfully unaware of the violence that once occurred here. The stark contrast made the landscape all the more beautiful.
There is beauty in destruction. This place, once a smoldering seismic killer, was only able to heal and allow life and beauty to exist in harmony with scars over time. In that moment of realization, I felt peace.