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The French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote “The whole of life lies in the verb ‘seeing’.” Yet, many of us go through our lives without seeing. We flit from moment to moment, observing none of them, always anticipating the future or lost in the past. Certainly, as someone who suffers from depressive episodes, the past is ever-present.

For most of us, the present, the now, is missing from our lives. On Saturday, though, I had the opportunity to be present, to see.

It began when a friend invited me along for a nature walk. Of course, I accepted.

What followed was a wonderful two hour walk near the shore of Lake Ontario. Specifically, we visited a bird preserve. The temperature was cool, the sun was bright and the birds were in full song. The area was quiet, far removed from the hiss of tires on pavement or the sound of engines grinding into gear.

And it was still. Yes, there was a breeze, but there was a calming stillness. As my friend and I wandered among the trees, we found our conversation to be low and infrequent. It was as if we wanted to honour the stillness in which we found ourselves. Certainly, that is how I felt. I was in nature, at peace with myself and the moment.

My friend had brought some birdseed. She had explained that the chickadees would feed off your hand. A package of birdseed was passed to me. I poured some onto my hand, stretched it out, and watched in amazement as one chickadee after another flew onto my hand to feed. As they landed, I could feel their delicacy. As they took off, I could sense their power.

When the birds grew more comfortable, they stayed on my hand longer. They would look at me with unfeigned curiosity. And I would look at them in delight. This was a new experience for me. I was filled with wonder.

Each time a chickadee landed on my hand, I saw. Each time a leaf swayed in the breeze, I saw. The past was not present. The future was not present. I was entirely in that moment, at one with nature. For those two hours, I was seeing, I was alive.

About John Dickson

A lifelong battle with Major Depressive Disorder resulted in a suicide attempt. That attempt taught me the danger of being silent about my personal struggles with mental health. I’ve had to learn to be more open about my struggle. I now choose to reach out with the hope that someone will be inspired and end his/her own silence. I’m a dad, a blogger and a new convert to the power of social media.

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