A photo essay about finding internal calm through the external world.

By on July 8, 2021 | 3 comments

First, a golden yellow. Then, a warm orange. Then, a light pink and a soft purple hue. Finally, the monotone blue-gray sky of a departed sun. The tundra is green and full of wildflowers. A bird whistles somewhere nearby, and I can hear the sound of the creek flowing over the hillside. I pause to sit and watch the colors in the clouds fade. The end of the day is always a sigh. We have no agenda but to let the moon and the stars shine through… if your eyes don’t close before they appear. Sometimes a destination seems far away, but you finally reach it, worn out but content.

I haven’t been present in my surroundings lately. My thoughts are adrift in the things I need to be doing, but I’m hardly able to focus on any one of those things. A chronic foot injury has kept me from running much, which is usually my sigh of relief when I need space to turn off my brain. However, I was fortunate to backpack for a few days recently, and I recalled the tranquil mind only being fully immersed in nature can provide.

“I like to get away from it all; away from the pressures, away from the pretentions that people live with. There’s no need to broadcast what we are doing. Let’s just climb.”—Art Davidson, Minus 148 Degrees

As I climb the puzzle of granite boulders, I squeeze myself between rocks, relying on the friction of my shoes and the strength in my arms to keep me connected. As I scamper to the summit, I rest on a large, flat stone, the butterflies still fluttering around my body. I try not to think of the downclimb for now. I rotate in a circle and take in the surrounding mountains of where I live. I’m standing atop Jagged Mountain, an infamously remote and difficult peak—a mountain that has eluded my abilities until now. A smile creeps across my face, another elusive attribute these days. For a moment, I don’t think of anything outside of where my feet stand.

I know that given time, my stress and injury will ebb. But for now, I look to the fleeting moments in nature to emulate.

I wish I were as stoic as a mountain or as patient as a pine. I wish I were as calm as the creek or as soft as the snowfall. I wish I were as refreshing as the rain or as shining as the stars. I wish I were all the things that nature is, but if nothing else I can at least rest amongst all these wonders.

Call for Comments

When was the last time you used movement through the natural world to quiet your inner self?

Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains

All photos: Hannah Green

Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains camping

Hannah Green - wild strawberry

Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains lake

Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains camping

 Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains backpacking

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Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains lake

Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains

Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains

Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains

Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains

Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains

Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains

Hannah Green - San Juan Mountains

Hannah Green
wanders long distances by foot and takes photos along the way. When not outside, you can likely find her at the nearby coffee shop. Find more on Instagram and at Hannah Green Art.