Outside In

The note from my student Alana Ortiz read, “Today worked on a level I didn’t see coming. Thank you for the insight of having some outside time, which somehow led me to some new inside places.”

My OLLI@CSUMB class Write the Morning Away began our last session at Fort Ord Dunes State Park. We gathered at a picnic table on a morning that was vacillating between sun and fog and fog and sun. We could see where we were until we couldn’t.

IMG_0271It’s not so hard to get to the park and it’s not so hard to get to other outdoor spots where nature is abundant and at the helm, but how easy it is not to. We can get kinda stuck inside—inside our homes, offices, cars, our heads, etc so that it may feel as though the world of outdoors is beyond reach and that our lives exist on the inside. It used to be, a very long time ago, that everyone’s life existed mostly outside. That’s partly why I wrote Step into Nature because when I rediscovered the out of doors it greatly changed my life and my imagination.

At the park where we walked last weekend, part of the old Fort Ord, there used to be an officers’ club on the bluffs above the ocean. Alana continued, “I have to tell you, my story went in another direction that I didn’t see coming.” She felt the presence of the “many men who had their last dance at the club there and never returned.” She said, that she could even hear “strains of music from that era. It spooked me a bit.”

IMG_0274When I walk in the open places, free of a predominance of cement and asphalt, free of scales tipped by human commerce, where the wind gets in my ears and ruffles my hair and my feet touch down on dirt, I too become available to other ways of knowing the world and myself. And you, what happens to you and the art you make when you take it all out of doors?