Sally’s Thanksgiving Message 2021

Family, Nature Center

Is today’s life more complex because of technology?

So often, I hear people commenting that life today is more complex or more stressful because we have so much more we are responsible for.  But really, are the things around us creating the pressure and stress or is it a burden we put on ourselves? Sometimes we might need to be reminded that nature is always there for us, we just need to allow ourselves the time to enjoy connecting.

The past almost two years has rocked our world and now that we are getting back on track, it is important to allow ourselves the time to reflect and think about what is meaningful in our lives.  We have lost loved ones, helped care for family and friends who were ill, or maybe were sick ourselves.  Our everyday momentum came to a halt, we had to stop, switch gears, figure out what to do, and essentially reevaluate our lives. Each of us found different ways to connect and spend our days. For me, getting outside, whether a walk in the woods or on the beach, or gardening, brought me hope and a glimmer of joy during those days.  Now back to the grindstone, I find it challenging to find the time for these activities I treasured the past two years.

A few weeks ago, we received a beautiful letter and generous donation to CEED, from the son of beloved community member who passed away from COVID-19.  In the letter, the son talked about the stories his mom shared about coming out from New York City as a young girl to stay with her grandparents in Brookhaven. She fondly remembered how the peacocks would wander from the Washington Lodge through the woods to their property. Being out in nature brought her joy – so much so, that all these years later, her son wanted to support opportunities for others to enjoy nature.

Later, I found out that her grandfather, Philip Gengembre Hubert, wrote a book called Liberty and a Living: the Record of an Attempt to Secure Bread and Butter, Sunshine and Content.  This book, first published in 1889, is all about stepping back from the stresses of everyday and creating a life that is meaningful to you.  The following excerpts in the first chapter were my motivation for this article.

“Life, to the average man, means hard, anxious work, with disappointment at the end, whereas it ought to mean pleasant work, with plenty of time for books and talk.

“Throughout the years of hard toil I suspected that there might be such an escape. Now, having escaped, I am sure of it.

“For a good many years I worked hard at newspaper correspondence and miscellaneous writing without doing more than keep my family in the most modest way of life. I went to my desk early and remained late. Year after year I dreamed of the day when my bank account should be large enough to allow me at least a few months for that out-door work and sport I love so well; yet the day of rest seemed to grow more distant rather than nearer.”

Apparently 1889 was not that different from today!  Maybe we have other types of work and different technology and tools to use, but we, as humans, still put the same pressure on ourselves. Philip G. Hubert was a bit hard core, and left the city to live in the country and work off the land. He spent much of his time fishing and outdoors after leaving his work in the city. His message is relevant to all of us.  We create the burden on ourselves of being too busy and we need to make sure we allow ourselves the time to enjoy what is meaningful for each of us.

For me, I enjoy being with family and in nature. What is your “escape”? During this month of thanks and reflection, make sure to find the time to do what is meaningful for you.  Happy Thanksgiving.

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