As I made my way to a nearby park with my dog Otis some thoughts ran through my head. Why am I going here? Will I be able to concentrate? I am actually going to accomplish what I came to do? Write my blog? Now it had been a long time since I actually went somewhere with the intention of doing nothing but just observing and listening to the sounds that surround me.
Once I arrived I sat down by a bench behind the baseball field. I wasn’t able to have a clear view of the field since a bunch of trees stood in the way. Nevertheless I believed that this was precisely what I needed as I came to observed everything around me and not just to look at a baseball field. At first all I could hear was the sound of people talking and yelling, cars honking and driving past the park, and basketballs bouncing. I was there for about half an hour growing tiresome and angry, thinking that I am not going to be able to do this. Then all of a sudden I sort of went into some sort of different dimension, everything around me just slowed down. It was like I was Neo in the Matrix. All the outside noises were gone. There were no longer sounds of people talking, cars honking and basketballs bouncing. It was almost as if you could hear a pin drop.
Everything became so peaceful. I looked up at the sky and although the air was cool the sun was out. I stood in the shade but you could still see how some light was filtering through the oak tree tops. I could hear birds chirping, the whizzing sound of insects and even the wind singing through the tree branches. I looked left and saw a squirrel gathering some acorns to get ready for winter. As it made its way away from the branch the squirrel knocked off a leaf. The leaf red in color slowly began to fall until it made its way to the ground. With all these things going on around me I began to think. What is this? I took a deep breath and realized this is nature.
Then I remembered that a few days ago as I ran through my Facebook news feed I came across a video advertisement for Planet Earth II. The video was titled From Birth, Marine Iguanas fight for their lives. I was amazed how a baby iguana has to fight for its life just to make it from the hatching nest to the ocean. Some of the iguanas were able to escape the snakes chasing it. Others were not so lucky.
I began to think how does nature impact our (humans) wellbeing? How does the environment affect us? I realized that it affects us in every single way. People who live in New York are affected differently than people living in North Dakota because of the type of climate they experience. People living in high polluted areas are more like to develop respiratory problems than someone living in the country. People who don’t have access to clean water are more likely to become sick than people who do. People who live in big cities as opposed to rural areas, the suburbs, or the country are all affected differently. I believe that the environment actually helps shape your identity.
Environments also helps reduce stress for us college students. Research suggests that whatever you are “seeing, hearing, and experiencing at any moment” not only changes your mood but also affects how your central nervous system operates. It is said that a “negative environment can cause you to feel anxious, sad and or helpless.” While positive has the opposite effect on you. I guess it’s fitting when they say nature heals, soothes, and restores the soul.
However, as Emerson has said “humans do not fully accept nature’s beauty.” We fail to recognize the “relationship between God, man and nature.” All we do is rely on what science tells us. “Have mountains, and waves, and skies, no significance but what we consciously give them, when we employ them as emblems of our thoughts?” As Emerson states “we are distracted by the demands of the world.” Similarly, Thoreau believes that we are trapped into lives where “owning property and slaving in jobs” is the only way to maintain a way of life. He believes that if we were to discover the joy and the fulfillment of nature we would live better lives.
As Thoreau said, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” We need realize that we are very lucky to live in this fertile planet surrounded by all types of nature. We need to understand that we nothing but a mathematical improbability. Humanity as a whole needs to take control and protect the very nature that will keep our species going. Only when we begin to embrace it will we begin to understand “all of nature’s forms and phenomena.”
Nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson
Walden, Henry David Thoreau