Horizon Envy (once again)

Long shadows at sunset

Dear readers,  I am having a wee bit of a challenged week both physically and mentally, and keep surfing the Big Wide Internet searching for distractions to soothe my spirit.

Some of you long-time readers & friends may remember this post.  It’s the third time I’ve published it.  Because, oh just because, it seems to express something important about horizons and lack of horizons.  Larger views and smaller views.  How we can change our perspectives to recognize the gold that shines in things we don’t particularly like.

The first time I published this was in 2009.  The second time in 2011.  I am guessing probably some of you haven’t considered your horizons recently.

I am reconsidering mine as we speak.

Love, Kathy in 2018

Here is the formerly published post:


Magnificence of sunset clouds

Tonight I am going to come clean.  Admit a huge psychological problem.   Time to tell you the ugly truth.

And the reason I can share this truth with you tonight is:  I am almost cured.


But it’s been a long haul, a long road.

Horizons allow for Sunset Photography

Imagine yourself moving to your Little House in the Big Woods.  (I am suddenly fascinated with the parallels between this life and the Laura Wilder Ingall’s Little House on the Prairie books that I read to my children before they could toddle.  Well before they started kindergarten anyway.)  Imagine yourself building an idyllic little cabin in the woods and raising children who ran wild and free building forts and playing amidst the trees.

Really imagine what this feels like.  You are surrounded by trees.  Trees everywhere.  Trees to the left, trees to the right, trees behind you, trees in front of you.  You carve out a space for a house and perhaps garage and lawn, but you’re in the forest.

Sunset tree

What does this mean?  It means there is no visible horizon.  You cannot see the sun set or rise, except through the blanket of tree branches.  You are always surrounded.  Your sight can no longer stretch infinitely to the north or west or east or south.  It stops.  It stops when it meets trees.

And you have to learn to live in this forest-world, without the gift of a horizon.

So I must tell you the ugly secret.  For much of my life here in the wood I have experienced horizon envy.  Envy of those who have a horizon.  Yes.  It was quite painful.  In the early years I begged my forest-loving husband “Please can we move down by the water?  I must have a view!  I must have a horizon!”  But my pleas fell on deaf ears.  He loved the woods.  He couldn’t imagine what his crazy wife was talking about.  And I certainly couldn’t articulate about horizon envy.

The years passed.  I scurried on down to the lake as often as possible.  The kids and I camped on the doorstep of the neighbors for a long stretch.  Well, actually we kept inviting ourselves for coffee.  Because they were such wonderful people and because (this gets really ugly, I know):  they had a horizon.

Until one day I started looking at the Little Things.  The tiny plants.  The texture of bark.  The mosses.  The leaves.  Really looking deeply.  Appreciating what was there under my feet and all around in the forest.  Wow!  Details that had never before been noticed.  Subtle gifts.

Sunset kissed pear

The forest came alive and suddenly, one of those days, I realized I was no longer desiring the horizon.  Well, not as much anyway.  There still is a little bit of horizon envy.  It may never go away.  Especially when the best sunset you can sometimes view is a reflection in a mud puddle in your driveway.

Pa Ingalls moved his family out to the prairie.  They left the Big Woods and moved to a place where the horizon was all they could see.  No more being surrounded with trees.  They were on the big wide expanse of endless view.

Nope, not me.  I’ve decided.  I like this woods just fine.  As long as there is a lake you can walk to a quarter-mile away.  There are Michigan mountains in this county, as well.  You can climb ’em and admire the horizon all you want.  And some of my friends have farms.  Fields stretch in all directions around their house.  You can go and breathe deep and feel like you are an eagle, looking in all directions at once.

My friend Melinda visited from California once in the middle of our green and leafy summer.  She lives atop a mountain.  She couldn’t get over the claustrophobic feeling of being surrounded by trees.

Soft sheen of sunset illuminating trees

I understood what she meant.

Yet I have learned that sometimes the things we need to see next are given to us in life.  I needed to open my eyes and look at the little details, the little things.  Some people may need the wider view, to live atop a mountain or beside the sea.  Sometimes what we want aren’t the same things we need.

Yep.  That’s what I’ve learned from this challenging case of Horizon Envy.

Ahhhh….horizon sunset…hope to see you again someday…

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in November 2018 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Horizon Envy (once again)

  1. debyemm says:

    My dad felt claustrophobic here in our forest. I like a long view. There is a large pasture behind my in-laws’ cabin and I can make out that the stream is down below by the tree lines and then there is bit of Missouri mountain with a tree line at the top that serves as a kind of horizon. We have a bit of horizon but not the endless kind.

    • Kathy says:

      Deb, it sounds like you have the best of both worlds in your neck of the woods. We *almost* have it at this time of years when the leaves shed from the trees. Thank you for commenting. It means a lot to me!

  2. Carol says:

    Often it’s all about appreciating what we have, isn’t it? We humans seem to always want more, when we have enough.

  3. sybil says:

    But you aren’t really talking about actual horizons are you ? You are in your own inimitable way trying to teach us about “seeing” the world around us. You are reminding us to stop gazing into that misty distance and see the wonders of life right under our noses. Well … at least that’s what I got from this post. I wonder what I thought back in 2011? I probably made some smart assed comment … lol

    • Kathy says:

      Oh Sybil you made me laugh out loud! You’ve got me busted. I guess I’m talking about two things simultaneously. I AM talking about real horizons. But also about *yeah* what you said. From whatever level a person is reading this. I love it that you read it metaphorically as well as literally. You are cool, smart ass & all. xoxoxo

  4. Lovely post, Kathy. I love the trees on my property. However, I can not see much beyond my back yard. I can see the color of the sky but I can’t see the sunset or watch the glorious changes in the color of the sky.

    • Kathy says:

      It sounds like you are horizon-limited as well, my friend. I have been pondering since re-reading and re-posting this blog that I am much more accepting of what is here these days. So attitude improvements have happened since 2009!

  5. Robin says:

    I remember this post, Kathy, and like Sybil, wonder what I might have thought about it and commented the first time around. I have great big horizons now and it’s sometimes overwhelming. Maybe we humans are destined to never quite be satisfied. I suppose that’s what pushes us onward, looking for new horizons and being touched by more and more of life.
    Three deer just walked by. Looking for breakfast or new horizons? lol!

    • Kathy says:

      Robin, here is what you posted in 2011: I’m not absolutely positively sure but… I am almost positively sure this is the blog post that first inspired me to take on the challenge of stepping outside every day. I remember thinking about how I don’t often appreciate where I am (“the grass is always greener” syndrome), and as I read this post I kept hearing an inner, resounding, Yes!

      I’ve just come from a visit to Michigan (Detroit) and was amazed at how flat the land was once we got about an hour away from the Bogs. The horizon stretched out forever, or so it seemed. I was enthralled with the flatness of the prairies in Colorado too. I love all of that wide open space. But I’ve also come to love and very much appreciate the smaller view and space in which I live. Thank you for that. 🙂

      Anyway. I ♥ this post.

      **It doesn’t look like you commented on the first posting on the outdoor blog. P.S. How nice of you to comment THIS time around!

  6. msmcword says:

    Kathy: I enjoyed this post, as well as the photos. And I like the “stop and smell the roses” message of this post. I am working on “smelling the roses” more myself.
    And I have also been photoblogging on my blog at http://www.msmcword.wordpress.com. Perhaps when you are feeling up to it looking at my photos will give you the same pleasure that looking at yours gives me.
    Keep on bloggiing!

    • Kathy says:

      Nancy, I am glad you enjoyed this blog post. Most of the pictures–I think–were taken downstate where I had the view of a horizon and sunset. It’s good when we all remember to appreciate the positives. Thanks for reading and I’ll visit your blog.

  7. Barb says:

    “Sometimes what we want aren’t the same things we need.” Why do I keep forgetting this truth? I’m missing “my” forest right now and the comfort of trails meandering through towering evergreens. We’re homesick in CA though we’re in a beautiful place with expansive views of ocean to the western horizon. At home, I often focus in close at small wonders – the trails continually curve around obstacles, and I’m satisfied to only see what’s just ahead. Here I find myself feeling lost in the wider view, a bit unsettled with no apparent anchor for my spirit. I’m learning new ways of seeing and being even though sometimes I’m out of my comfort zone. Thinking of you, Kathy, there in the big woods.

    • Kathy says:

      Barb, I keep forgetting that truth as well. Perhaps we need to remember it a thousand or million times before it finally sticks as “truth” in our psyche. How interesting to think that a person can be lost in the wider view. That is what I’ve always suspected, but have never put into solid words. I am imagining your homesickness and how life might seem a little much right now. Many hugs! Surrounding you both with love…

  8. I do remember this post and also wonder what comment I made back then…

    I think the biggest dose of horizon I ever got was when I was 15 years old and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean with my family. For days there was nothing but horizon in a full 360° circle. It made a big impression on me.

    To this day I’ve never seen a prairie, although it is on my bucket list. I wonder if it would look like anything I imagine.

    I love the horizon view from our little local beach and I love going deep into the woods, too. Feeling lucky to have both so close.

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, that is fascinating about sailing across the ocean when you were a teenager. I’ll bet that did make a huge impression on you! I am glad you have both the horizon and your woods to inspire and comfort you. Smiling–you’ll have to read what you commented in 2011:

      It sounds like you almost have the best of both worlds – life in the woods with a short hike to the horizon view. Your sunset shots are breathtaking, even the ones without a visible horizon. And your picture-taking shadow on the tree is inspired!

      I grew up in the woods and often visited my grandparents by the sea. I have heard a common complaint about Connecticut when visitors come from other parts of the world: you can’t see anything, there are too many trees in the way! I was an adult, and away from home, though, before I realized that the moon was sometimes out in the daytime! Didn’t see the sky much playing in the woods…

  9. Elisa says:

    Oh! Thank you! When chaos stops I am grateful for a hot second and ty ty for the words, I go off doing the horizon envy thing, OR i try to create a horizon lol (mutters about built in forgetter while giggling in relief)

  10. It is a beautiful post, Kathy. Thank you for sharing. I spent many summers with my grandparents and their house was surrounded by woods. So I learned early on to look for small things, to listen to the stories of every leaf and ever branch and every root. Till this day, a forest is where I feel most at peace. Lately, I’ve also been fascinated with forests as communities and with the way trees interact, share and live together.
    I really enjoy your writing. It works so well on the immediate, physical level – connecting with the world around us and appreciating the beauty every day brings. But it also pushes to re-examine things on a deeper, more spiritual level and think about the dreamy horizons and learning to appreciate the little details of our everyday lives.
    Also wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award. You can read about it here: https://gonecampingblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/10/and-the-sunshine-blogger-award-goes-to/

    • Kathy says:

      Oleksandra, thank you so much. For your thoughtful comment and for your love of trees. For listening to the stories the trees whispered to you. Not everyone can quiet her mind to the degree that she can hear/feel/see tree energy.

      I know what you mean about re-examining things on a deeper level. It’s so easy to get caught in our conditioning and not really explore the depth and breadth of what the world might really be revealing to us in each new moment.

      And, finally, thank you for the lovely nomination! I smiled big and wide that you would include me in your list. I probably won’t be writing about this, but your good-hearted words and inclusion made my day. xoxoxo Kathy

  11. Stacy says:

    I have a horizon, Kathy, but in my little house on the lake with many trees (but not the woods), I get tree envy. I want more woods. But it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have a horizon, so that really does give me pause. XO

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