Posts Tagged ‘listening’

The most transformative week of my life: The Byron Fellowship

It’s hard to convey in words what I have just experienced and how I feel. I am still me, but I am in a completely different mental, emotional and physical space than I was a week ago. This past week at the Byron Fellowship at Turkey Run State Park has been the most inspiring, transformative, freeing experience of my life up to this point.

The word ‘cathartic’ comes to mind. I went to the Fellowship with the hope that the week could be a relaxing experience that would help me transition from a semester in academia to summer internships with the City of Bloomington and the Indiana University Office of Sustainability. The week was far more than just a transition – though it was an incredibly relaxing week that did allow me to decompress from the academic semester. However, I learned so much about myself and those around me, and about creating sustainable community and place that I find it limiting to attempt to put the experience into words. I consider myself a verbose individual, but there was something about the Byron Fellowship that has made me feel I lack the language to describe it. I feel almost as if the words don’t exist to describe the feeling I have right now – at least not in English. But nonetheless, I will continue to try.

I have never felt such a deep sense of peace, calm and connection to the natural world and all the living and none-living things in it. I feel as if all my cares have not gone away, but been intensified by the hope that knowing the people at the Byron Fellowship has given me. Never have I felt so open, so completely free to bear my heart, mind and soul to a group of people, and so confident that they will trust in me as I will trust in them, that they will not judge me in any way, that they will listen and care with the most amazing grace and compassion people could possibly have. I have been blessed with being shared such wisdom this week – the wisdom of those possessing many more years than I, the wisdom of those younger than me, the wisdom of those with different interests and skills, the wisdom of those with incredible experiences and knowledge – I have been humbled by all that they have been willing to share.

Each of those I have known at the Byron Fellowship this week has inspired me in a different way. We have shared the things that inspire us, that give us hope, that make us strong, that we believe in, and that we love. The connections with the places at Turkey Run State Park – the past and present, the old and new – and with one another – I know I will carry these with me for a lifetime.

I hope that throughout my life I can continue to be as inspired and feel as trusting in the future that we all will create as I feel today. The Byron Fellowship has given me hope that we will create a sustainable world. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but maybe in our children’s lifetimes or our children’s children’s children’s lifetimes – we will be able to find those things which matter most, those things that sustain us as a people, and that sustain our natural world. We can make a real difference in individual and collective lives. The stories we tell, the way we listen and trust and hope, the compassion and love we show for one another, and the faith we have in what we believe will lead us to a better place – a more sustainable world for all.

Listening to nature

Sometimes it’s important to actually listen to nature once in a while. We can become so plugged in – to the television, internet, movies, iTunes – that we forget what our world actually sounds like.

Tonight, as I finish reading for my class tomorrow, I’ve opened the windows to let the warm early summer breeze in, and I’m listening to the sounds of my world. Seagulls crying over the river, motorcycles buzzing over the bridge, Canadian geese squawking in the brush, trucks and cars humming on the highway in the distance, a dog barking, the wind swirling through the long grass and tall trees. Though most of those sounds aren’t what we would consider part of nature, they’re part of my nature nonetheless. The sounds outside my windows are comforting. It reminds me of falling asleep with the window open when I was a little girl. Or going for a long walk in the late evening, hand in hand with my partner.

It’s healthy to just listen to the natural noises once in a while, instead of always putting on the newest pop tune or the latest radio celebrity gossip. Though music or television can make some lonely people feel less alone, it can also mask the reality of one’s thoughts. Sometimes, I find that too much noise clutters what I’m thinking about, making me simply hum along to the radio, instead of letting new thoughts percolate in my brain.

So, tonight, I’m just letting the sound of the wind through the grasses outside my window and the hum of traffic across the bridge be my company, as I enjoy a rare moment of peaceful loneliness.

Even the industrial silence of the modern town can be healing.