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  • Writer's pictureGiacomino Nicolazzo

A part of. Not apart from...


Edition 54. July 2023

“The earth has its music for those who will but listen.”

The above quote comes from the writings of George Santayana. If you are not familiar with his work, you owe it to yourself to discover him.

His name was actually Jorge Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás and he was a noted philosopher. A poet. A literary and cultural critic. Although he was not an American citizen, he became a principal figure in Classical American Philosophy. He managed to naturalize Platonism, update Aristotle, fight off idealisms and provide a striking and sensitive account of the spiritual life...amazingly, without being connected to any particular religion.

Santayana was a naturalist...

before naturalism grew popular

He appreciated multiple perfections...

before multiculturalism became an issue

He thought of philosophy as literature...

before it became a theme in American and European scholarly circles

And here is another of his most astute that I had the fortunate pleasure of coming across when I was writing Affirmation 201. A Walk in The Woods in my best-selling motivational book, THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE...

“In the concert of nature,

it is hard to keep in tune with oneself,

especially if one is out of tune with everything else.”

Our connection to nature as a species, is as undeniably obvious as it is indeed wonderful. It is actually much more important than most people might realize. Time spent out in nature is not a luxury. It is an absolute necessity. All of nature serves as a refuge for us. Being out in it has a powerful positive effect on our mind, our body and our spirit...

It inspires us!

It causes us to reflect and feel humility!

It heals our spirits and speeds our recovery process!

Just knowing that we are a part of this incredible creation should drive us to our knees in thankful prayer.

For me, it is the trees that fascinate me most. Trees have always been the most illuminating of preachers. Living amongst them as I now do, I have come to revere them. I revere them because they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more so, I revere them when they stand alone.

Trees are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness however, but like great, solitary men.

In their highest boughs the world rustles. Their roots rest in infinity but they do not lose themselves there. They struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing and one thing only...

to fulfill themselves according to their own laws

to build up their own form

to represent themselves

Nothing, and I mean this...nothing is holier. Nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, we can read its entire history...

In the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk

In the rings of its years

In its scars

As a young boy growing up in those incredibly beautiful Pennsylvania woods, I learned that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings. I came to understand that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible environments, the strongest and most ideal trees grow.

The trees I have come to know tell me this...

In me, a seed is hidden.

In me, a spark burns.

In me, eternal thoughts are born.

I am life from eternal life.

My trees have shown me that I am unique...

unique in the form and veins of my skin.

in the smallest play of the leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark.

I was made to grow and reveal the eternal in my smallest special details.

My trees have revealed to me that...

My strength is my trust and out of this trust I must live.

When I feel stricken. When I feel I cannot bear life any longer, my trees have something more to say to me...

Be still!

Look at me!

Life is not easy.

Life is not difficult.

Life just is.

When I let trees speak to me, my thoughts grow silent. I am no longer anxious because I know my trees are on a path that is leading me home. With every step taken and every day lived, I am going back to that place from which I came.

As a young boy, I loved exploring the woods in the mountains above my house in the small and rural town in North Central Pennsylvania where I was born and grew up. I spent countless hours wandering among the trees, marveling at their towering heights and the way the sunlight filtered through their leaves. To me, the forest was a cathedral, a sacred space...

Somewhere that I felt close to something so much greater than myself

As I grew older, for one reason or another, I stopped visiting the woods as often. I became absorbed in the busyness of life, and the silent cathedrals I’d found in the forests of my youth were forgotten. But then, one day in the midst of a crushing personal crisis, I remembered the peace I’d once found among the trees. And so, I have returned to them...

I rediscovered the spiritual connection I had felt as a child.

Many people today find themselves disconnected from traditional forms of spirituality. It is only logical. It is difficult to continue embracing such archaic mythologies as we become more educated, and more of science is revealed to us. Talking serpents, burning bushes, virgin births and floating zoos no longer seem credible and we come to realize they were always meant to be allegorical.

Many people have grown disillusioned with religion. Many have not the time or resources to attend church on a regular basis. But the beauty of spirituality is that it can be found in many forms and many places...

Least of which is in a building made of stone and steel

The famous naturalist John Muir wrote...

“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.”

Through his connection to nature, Muir found a way to connect himself with his inner self and in so doing, he began to see and understand his purpose in a much clearer, less-encumbered light.

Nature has the ability to humble us. It does not ever fail to remind us of our smallness in the grander scheme of things. It can inspire feelings of awe and reverence that are often associated with traditional religious experiences.

It was the poet Mary Oliver who wrote, in her book House of Light, a collection of poems. I read it quite a few years ago now yet vividly recall the words in one of those poems...

“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last? And too soon? Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

This perspective has helped me to understand that I am not the center of the world. It made me understand that I exist as a part of nature and not apart from it.

Are you familiar with what the Japanese call Shinrin-yoku? It translates literally as “forest bathing” and it means to lose oneself in the forest while enjoying the air, the scents, the vegetation and the sounds of the birds and animals that live there.

The English translation is a bit less impressive. It means...

forest therapy

Regardless of the translation, when practiced mindfully, Shinrin-yoku is a contemplative walk through the forest without any specific goal or destination in mind.

It is a simple journey to relax and reap the benefits of being in nature

You may not know this, but walking in the forest has amazing health benefits. Apart from the obvious, getting fresh air and exercise, a good, mindful and intentional walk at a meandering pace may be the healthiest thing you can do. It will lower your blood pressure and your heart rate. It will reduce the amount of noise and clutter that is constantly taking place in your mind.

Trees provide us with intense aromatherapy. By breathing in their beneficial bacteria, we strengthen and fortify our immune system. The effect of walking beneath trees and beside running water causes the body to release endorphins and has an anti-depressant effect. The benefits of forest bathing are endless!

The positive sentiments, words and instructions I wrote in AFFIRMATION 201 of THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE read like this...

Today I will begin to spend more time out in nature.

I will make a daily effort to get outside among trees and meadows.

When time permits, I will explore a forest or a desert, the beach or the mountains.

I will hike or camp or back-pack.

As I walk, I will slow down.

I will meander and when I find a place that speaks to me, I will pause and ponder.

Perhaps I will sit in one spot for a while.

I will pay attention to the sounds of birds and animals, the breeze and running water.

I will take in the smells of trees and fresh air, flowers and grasses.

I will observe my surroundings with all my senses.

I will look for patterns or colors or themes that repeat themselves.

When my walk is over, I will do everything I can to recall what I have experienced.

I will endeavor to maintain for as long as I can, the sense of peace I experienced.

I will hold on to the calm and relaxation that I have achieved.

After three years of a most intrusive pandemic where our basic dignities and rights were stripped away from us by leaders of questionable competence and motivation...and now facing the real possibility of an all-consuming war starting in Europe that may well spread to the rest of the world, never has there been a better time to turn your focus and attention inward for the purpose of experiencing life the way it is meant to be experienced.

I wrote THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE in such a way as to guide you, gently and kindly, into a state of natural well-being...toward a simpler way of living that will help you partake of life deeply and more fully. It will illuminate your senses of kindness and compassion and bring you back to your core values.

My book teaches that life is all about practice and focus...

that what we practice most often and focus upon predominately will indeed grow.

It will be the practice and the focus that become the water and sunshine that nurture your dreams.

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2 коментари

Giacomino Nicolazzo
Giacomino Nicolazzo
04.07.2023 г.

Ciao Diana! My Diana and I read one page each day during breakfast or lunch. We have done this religiously for more than two years. It has made such a different in our personal lives and our life as a couple. I am glad you read the book and I am thrilled to be friends with you.


Diane Pieri Kos
Diane Pieri Kos
02.07.2023 г.

So wise! I periodically find myself pulling the book off the shelf for a little booster!

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