I was always a fan of nature. I love to take hikes, long walks, and just randomly staring up to see the leaves rustling about in the wind, or perhaps the formations of the clouds. That being said, I couldn’t help but cringe at the fact that, for this nature walk exercise I wasn’t able to plug my earphones in and immerse myself in my own music. Of course there were times when I would take my earphones off, but those cases were when I was actually hiking up a mountain, or I had the sound of the raindrops bouncing on my umbrella to drown out all the horrifying scenes in my neighborhood.
Regardless of what horrifying situations popped up in my head, I walked out my front door with my head held high. I decided to walk to a park roughly twenty to thirty minutes away. I first discovered the park when I was going through some things in my life. I still clearly remember the moment that I got to the pond in the middle of the park. It was raining so the park was completely empty. The sounds of the raindrops hitting my umbrella, the leaves of the trees, the pond, and everything else completely washed away all of my problems and I felt a calm that I never have had in my life before.
Going back to the walk, the beginning moments were expectedly horrifying. The drivers around my neighborhood seldom stop at stop signs, the large stray cat population around my neighborhood usually leaves small dead animals around from time to time, this time it happened to have been a fairly large pigeon, and the people are a little bit obnoxious.
After having gotten to the park after what felt like twenty-five minutes of pure agony, this sense of calm immediately radiated through my body once more. I let out a deep breath upon arriving, and did my usual routine of walking around the pond three times counter-clockwise. As I encircled the pond, a passage came into mind from Henry D. Thoreau’s Walden, where he writes,
“Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them. Their fingers, from excessive toil, are too clumsy and tremble too much for that. Actually, the laboring man has not leisure for a true integrity day by day; he cannot afford to sustain the manliest relations to men; his labor would be depreciated in the market. He has no time to be anything but a machine.”(p.7)
This overwhelming thought made me realize the connections between all the past visits to the pond and the reasons I had to go there whenever times were getting tough. The “gasp of air” that Walden refers to a little later on seemed all too relevant in my life. I sat down after my third rotation and let the remainder of my hour slip away as I reflected on Walden’s passage and how desperate our lives really are.
What I concluded by the end of the hour was that ultimately, environment shapes us, and molds us far beyond the point of us even being able to recognize it. Without even realizing it, our environment shapes the way we work, play, act, and even talk, and sometimes, we just need to take a few steps back to realize how desperate we are. A simple moment of evaluation as well as rejuvenation goes a long way.