Earlier this week, the weather conditions were warmer than normal, the wind speed was low, and the sky was mostly clear. This put me in the frame of mind to enjoy a stroll on the “Cowboy Trail” southwest of Norfolk.
After traveling a couple of miles west of town, walkers and bicyclists see the flat terrain of Nebraska’s Great Plains. The trail extends 200 miles to Valentine. During cold or stormy days, this sight is intimidating. During milder days, the view is starkly inspirational. During many walks on the trail my mental jukebox plays the chorus from the old western song “Home On The Range”.
“…Home, home on the range,
Where the Deer and the Antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the sky is not cloudy all day…”
–Dr. Brewster Higley/Daniel E. Kelley
It’s easy to become discouraged in this day and age of dishonesty, corruption, defamation of minorities, poverty, violence, and other alarming symptoms of a nation in serious disarray. Getting off my derrière and into the great outdoors is a good remedy that clears the mind and body of negativity.
Some thoughts of thanksgiving naturally flow forth when we’re in good surroundings. These grateful moments encourage us to maintain positive growth and some measure of happiness. This gives us strength when we return to the world of less than ideal conditions. You might say that gratitude is food for the soul.
Many of us never imagined that women, racial minorities, LGBT people, religious and non-religious minorities, disabled, and the poor could find the encouragement to become our own heroes and live our lives as we see fit, on our own terms, regardless of who we are. So much progress within the span of my own life time brings me much joy. It’s amazing what solidarity and a fair share of encouragement can do to improve society for everyone.
Going out in nature is an ages old tonic that can bring out the best in us. The weather doesn’t even need to be ideal. Sometimes, adverse conditions provide strength. During a walk in the rain or snow, we can borrow the bodybuilders’ phrase, “no pain, no gain”. The best encouragement is knowing our limits and working to push beyond them. We can apply this principle to other areas of our lives.
As I’ve grown older, I hope I’ve grown a bit wiser. I want to be true to my best self. I want to help others in ways that I can when they request it. I hope to assist them according to my abilities and offer people realistic encouragement. Offering encouragement provides win-win scenarios. We can then become more intelligent, useful, valuable, compassionate, enlightened citizens of the world.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes writer and motivational speaker John C. Maxwell. “If you are a leader, you should never forget that everyone needs encouragement. Everyone who receives it–young or old, successful or less-than-successful, unknown or famous–is changed by it.”