Born and raised in Stockholm, and having lived all my life in urban areas, including New York and London, I always identified as a city girl. Easy access to grocery shops, book shops, restaurants and cafés is essential to me, as is public transport.
That said, I can’t do without my annual three-week stay in the Swedish countryside where I have spent almost every summer since I was little. It’s a much-needed respite from the stresses of city life, and even my London-bred children love it.
While I appreciate nature, I am not a particularly outdoorsy person, and I detest the idea of going camping. The only time I slept in a tent was on a camping trip to Big Bend National Park in Texas with the geology club of my alma mater. That was more than twenty-five years ago, and though I generally have fond memories of that trip, I am in no rush to sleep in another tent. I don’t much like picknicks in the open either, and I prefer to have my meals indoors even in the summer.
On top of my metropolitan lifestyle, I am also tech-junkie, always tempted by the latest iPhone, iPad, and wireless headphones. Even my hearing aids are state-of-the-art tech, although so far, I’ve managed to resist the temptation to invest in a pair of hearing aids that can stream music and take calls from my iPhone.
Although there are lots of benefits to be had from all the connections made available through technology, there’s a drawback. For our increasing dependency on technology risks disconnecting us from our self, the essence of who we are as human beings.
For much of my life, I took urban life for granted and believed it was the only life I was suited to. But over the past few years, something within me began to shift.
No, I am not about to abandon London for a life in the English countryside any time soon, but after years of feeling a nagging sense of loss, of something missing, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, I finally discovered what it was: connection with nature.
In my case, that connection manifested itself through trees. I discovered the healing, grounding effect that being around trees has on me and how they help me get out of my head and into my heart.
Breathing in the fresh oxygen produced by trees is in itself healing and restorative, and the different shades of green, orange and red foliage have a gentle, soothing effect on me. The trunk, which connects the leafy crown with its roots, reminds me to stay grounded.
If it weren’t for a wise and fabulously intuitive lady called Alice, I might not have discovered the healing nature of trees. The first time we met, she gazed at me for a while in silence and then said,
‘There’s something about you and trees. Go out and be with trees.’
I followed her advice and soon discovered that trees are not just beautiful to look at; they help me connect with my deep, authentic self.
Spending time in nature and being close to trees, I felt whole, and it reminded me of a deeper truth; as human beings we are part of nature, something which is easy to forget in our high-tech world.