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Joshua M Argall

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An Appreciation for Nature: The Key to Stress-Free Life
by Joshua M Argall   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2009

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It’s been 28 years now and I think I’m finally starting to get it. I think I’ve finally found my place in life and everything is starting to come into focus. I certainly wouldn’t call it an epiphany because the realization hasn’t been sudden.

It’s been 28 years now and I think I’m finally starting to get it. I think I’ve finally found my place in life and everything is starting to come into focus. I certainly wouldn’t call it an epiphany because the realization hasn’t been sudden. In fact I’d be a fool to suggest my beliefs are complete as is. After all, one of my finest enlightenments is the realization that my way of thinking and my values are never set in stone and will always be expandable and ever-growing.

As much as I have tried not to regret anything in the past, I’ve got to openly admit that at this point in my life I think avoidance of regret is a complete waste of time. Acceptance of my wrong doings and faults has been a true blessing. Of course, I wish I’d done things differently along the way. Actually, there have been a lot of things I’ve done most people would consider mistakes. I’ve even been called a loser and a failure.  Obviously I never permanently accepted or bought into those accusations and misrepresentations of myself but there was a time when I questioned my undoubtedly obscure decision making. To finally conclude that it is absolutely impossible to change the past has been an enormously liberating understanding. My mistakes can only be used as a learning experience. I don’t have any reason to think otherwise. If it weren’t for my so called shortcomings in the past I’d never be who I am today and that would be the only thing regrettable.

So what am I today? I consider myself at peace. I am at peace with who I am and at peace with my place within the universe.  As a younger man I always tried to conform to the others around me. I felt I had to do what everyone else did and think like everyone else thought in order to fit in. Even more amazing was that I thought rebellion would lead to failure. Socializing with figures of beauty, power and excellence would certainly be a reflection of my being. An influential job title, stunning home and gorgeous wife were necessities in order to be considered successful.  What I failed to recognize is that I had yet to define success. As far as I see it, success is entirely customizable.  What an astonishing variable life has presented us!

Since the true definition of success for one’s self is only definable by one’s self it’s surely reasonable to conclude everyone is entitled to success.  In reality there’s no way anyone can prevent you from being successful besides yourself. My definition of success is to love my family, treat others as family, accept my role on this earth, be true to myself, never stop learning, and roll with the twist and turns life presents me. Today I have no other perception than one of a prosperous young man.

The real gift in all this is the appreciation I have for life. I know these beliefs have been formed over my lifetime but it’s clear to me that the last eight years have been the most constructive so far. There’s something about becoming responsible for another life that puts your own into perspective. I have been fortunate enough to experience this with the birth of my son Devin. I think the first time I laid eyes on him I instantly changed forever.  I can’t clearly define the sensation I feel when I think of him or hold him but there’s no doubt something about him is heavenly.  Maybe wanting to be able to define who I am was a direct result of the need to guide my son in the ways that will define who he becomes.

Upon forming the notion that I needed to shape my future, I became intensely involved with meditation and relaxation. Clearing the mind of all stress, tension and frustration and replacing it with cleansing, peaceful visualization is the greatest relief imaginable. When I first began my meditation it was difficult to concentrate on the visualizations because of all the tension I experienced throughout the day. I simply was not used to peace and quiet! Over time and after gradual success I’ve become very skilled in the art and today consider myself very proficient. When I first began meditation I used audio recordings to guide me through the process. Everything around me had to be quiet and comfortable.  However, I am currently able to do everything on my own and in any situation. I’ve become so accustom to total concentration and complete calm that nothing can divert my focus.  As a beginner the easiest situation for me to imagine happened to be an outdoor landscape. I’ve always found nature to be truly remarkable and in particular the beauty of the forest and the sounds of a stream. Thus, I imagined myself in that environment.  I also incorporated my son into the visualization since if there’s anyone that can make me forget about all my worries, it’s him. My exact experience would seem to follow something similar to this:

Devin and I enter a thick forest full of hardwoods and pines. It’s early fall so the leaves have begun to change from greens to red, oranges, and yellows. This day happens to be a bit warm however there’s a nice subtle breeze; just enough to sway the leaves and lift a few strands of hair up off my face. As we enter the forest I hold onto Devin’s small hand to guide him down the path. We’ve got our attention fixed upon an unmistakable clearing ahead. The sound of trickling water is getting more defined. As we near the opening we notice a glorious stream flowing through the forest. The sun over head and no longer obscured by the large surrounding trees, beats down through the water providing a crystal clear view of the rocks below.  I look over at Devin smiling back at me. His excitement is undeniable. We take our shoes off dip a toe into the water. It’s rather cool but also soothing.  Unable to resist the temptation of the stream’s magnificence, we enter step by step until our feet are completely submerged. Here we stall and take in all our surroundings using all our senses to memorize this very moment.

It was easy to begin with this visualization because it was so simple to relate the surroundings to a feeling of relaxation.  If looked at through the eyes of the overwhelmed, nature is a basic as can be.  After all the imagined experiences began to put my outlook on life back into perspective, I decided to begin to live the understanding not only in a tangible, physical manner but also in an inner spiritual approach.  I have actually lived my visualizations. I’ve walked in the forests, sat on the mountain tops, and swam in the lakes I’ve dreamt about. I’ve felt the feelings of complete relaxation and of complete exuberance. To be with nature and know that all that surrounds me has become over millions of years, eras, and generations is not only humbling but also gratifying.  Many of the locations have been claimed, bought and sold but never have they been owned. The forest may have been burned down or blown to the ground yet nature is resilient and everlasting. We can also continue to overcome our mishaps and tragedy, our loses and misfortunes if we don’t fight nature and natural occurrence.  I am of the belief that our environment doesn’t surround us but rather would be incomplete without us.

According to my understanding so far a contented life can only be achieved after realization and implementation of a simple natural life.  Of course, like all things in life, it’s individualized. I acknowledge the fact that some people who read this will think it’s ridiculous and some will snare. Some people will find it helpful, some will thank me for this insight and hopefully some people will reevaluate their role with others and their responsibility to the environment.  If nothing else, may your years be peaceful, long-lasting and fruitful.


Web Site: Midwest Sportsman

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