Animals don’t pretend to be something they’re not. If they do learn “human tricks” it’s from humans. But when you watch two blue jays squabbling in the yard, or the interplay between the horses of a herd, you’re seeing them be their true, authentic selves. Even the trees and plants follow this paradigm. Daisys turn their flowers toward the sun, following it throughout the day. They don’t care how they look, if they are “taking up too much light” or if someone will perceive them as needy. They’re soaking in the sun’s rays, ensuring they get as much light as possible for the growing season. They’re doing them.

Likewise trees stand tall and grasses grow lush and green. One blade of grass doesn’t ask its neighbor if it’s all right if it grows there; it just does. Now some could label this selfish, but as science has shown, trees communicate with one another and share resources. Since there’s so much we don’t know, I don’t think we can place human judgements on them.

There’s a reason why simply going outside to stand in the yard or go for a walk in the woods is so soothing to our nervous system. In a world that’s so focused on appearances and how we act and trying to be something we’re not, being in nature returns us to our authentic self. It pulls us into the moment with a hint of bird song on the breeze, or maybe a hawk soaring overhead. We catch a glimpse of a deer in a meadow, only to see it bound away, perhaps with a fawn by its side. Our human needs and our human world, and most certainly capitalism, seems so silly and useless in those moments. Mother Nature reminds us of who we are, who our ancestors were, and how it is there to rejuvenate our soul–if we let it.

I think that’s why my homestead is so healing for me. I can be my authentic self around the livestock. They don’t care if I talk silly to them or kiss their noses before I feed them. (The horses get this.) I watch the wildlife and feel at peace with the world around me. The patterns of weather and nature, the turn of the seasons, all of that reminds me I’m connected to something larger, something bigger than myself.

How does nature remind you of your authentic self?