I hate the gym. And it just recently occurred to me why. I hate working out for the sake of just working out. Running aimlessly on a treadmill, or climbing endless stairs to nowhere. It’s not the workout I dislike. I actually enjoy the endorphin euphoria I feel once I’m done, but I miss the connection from simply being in the great outdoors. Hiking the mountain trails out my back door, I absorb all things created and breathed. Flying down the hillside on my mountain bike all of nature washes over me. When I ski through the powder snow, I too become light and full as the flurries wrap me up in their cold fleece. In these places, I’m reminded I am right here, part of the natural world. I’m not forced to stare at some formulated magazine figure, with her queer wide white smile and erased body watching as I elliptical my way to a healthier me. Who would enjoy that? No wonder so many people resist the gym.
When I connect with the outdoors, the workout doesn’t even matter, it just happens. But I am reminded I am right. The way I am. I belong in this space. I don’t need to do anything special except exist. I am the crooked gnarled pinion tree on the dessert mountain hill and simultaneously I am the grand collegiate peaks on the horizon. I am one with it and a part of it at the same time.
This last week I realized writing holds equal significance for the very same reason. The challenge I’ve placed on myself is not to write for the sake of exercising my writing skills. It is for connection. In the last six months I faced the most difficult time in my life and it has left me confused. My daughter was paralyzed in a traumatic car accident, and my ex was driving. I have felt every possible emotion allowed to a woman through this experience. Emotions I didn’t even know existed and I struggle to find words for. I think this is why I always return to images in nature to remind me of who I am and more importantly how I feel. When I put those descriptions into words, I am reminded where I’ve come from, where I want to go, and what I am in this moment. And more importantly, I give myself permission to feel whatever I am in this moment. This is my poetry and the words that wash over me.
You may not know exactly what a poem is (and that’s the beauty of poetry—it can change; it should change), but you know you must write one.
–Rita Gabis, “Why Poetry”