One of the perks of living in Berlin is the vast number of parks within the city. Ever since I moved to this city, these green corners became my escape whenever there’s too much to handle, mentally and emotionally. I am not underestimating the power of other aspects of this city, like its rich and powerful history; the tragedy that fell upon this city and its people, and the recovery from all of it to be what it is today, a city where you can become anything, literally! I am amused by all of that. Maybe I take a little bit of pride to be able to live here although I am not sure if I am gonna stay here for a long time. Anyway, I am not diving into my long list of confusions here. I want to talk about a guy who started to embrace nature a lot more than he used to.
I was always amused by nature. It is not an interest that popped up all of a sudden. Even making the decision to study Landscape Architecture wasn’t difficult for the same reason. What changed would be my dependence on it, how I started to use nature as a healing mechanism from the hardships of life. And living exactly a block away from the largest public park in Berlin made things easier… Do you ever wonder about the particular things that made you comfortable in a new city? It can be anything. Maybe certain people, entertainment hubs, clubs, bars, or something else. For me, it was the public parks in this city.
In many ways, this city is still unknown to me. Although I have made a few friends here, the pandemic still makes me wanna stay at home. So, I’ve left with a lot of time away from people. As an ambivert, I have my time for socializing and I have time away from it all. I embrace it. And the way I recharge is by visiting parks. There I find a sort of ambiance that calms the growing anxiety within me. Sometimes I take my journal with me. I sit somewhere far away from people and write whatever comes to my mind… I have written a lot this year and invested a lot of time in personal growth. Maybe this shift in embracing nature is a part of it… Sometimes I close my eyes and meditate. Then I hear the chirping of the birds, wind rustling on the trees, people chatting, and the muted revving of the vehicles from the street. It’s a good place to be, both internally and externally!
Sometimes I wonder, what really made this difference? I used to be someone who is very conscious about himself in public. The thought of meditating in a public park would have given me a panic attack a year ago, but now it’s a normal thing for me. I am learning to stop apologizing for being myself. I’m still learning, but there is progress after all… Once, I recorded an entire YouTube video in a park. It was hard but being surrounded by nature made me feel comfortable. Then I remember a few weeks ago, on a shitty day, I hugged a tree and it instantly made me happy and grounded, and I’m not forgetting the fact that for the last few months, my shopping list sometimes included live plants. I feel comforted by all of it, I feel connected. Maybe it makes me feel like I am just a part of everything and everything is a part of me.
Many people have this innate affinity for nature and living systems. Science calls it Biophilia. I spent the last four months working on my Master’s thesis on Ecosystems and Biomimicry. This up-close scientific study also helped me understand nature a little bit better. Although it is a hypothesis, Biophilia suggests that the connection with nature improves physical health, psychological well-being, and cognitive function. And it makes sense that the term ‘Biophilia‘ was coined from the Greek words for ‘life’ and ‘love’. As a common practice of strengthening this human-nature bond through designing, Biophilic design is also a growing field in Architecture. Anyway, I am sure, for most of us, even without this scientific explanation, it is obvious that nature has its magic. A kind of healing power that’s difficult to explain. And in that beautiful realm, a hiker who doesn’t wish to leave the mountains and a sailor who is longing for his next voyage are bound by the same force.
This is what I think happened in my case. The pandemic may have made me realize the value of everything. Maybe that heightened my senses, the need to stay grounded, and the need to stay connected. Maybe I was always this way but never really noticed it since nature was always one step down from humans according to my priorities, and when humans had to stay away for the sake of social distancing, I started to see the magic of nature… Anyway, one thing is clear. I will keep exploring all that nature can offer within this city, try to strengthen my bond as long as I find it helpful, write more about the small things with huge impact in life, like this one, probably around a tree somewhere, and maybe inspire others to do so..!