Nature Walk

As Close to Wild as I am Capable

Taken by Nadine Cavanaugh

After going on my nature walk in Central Park this weekend, I came to think how we are reflections of our environment. There is still uniqueness to be found in each individual, but the way we go about incorporating our surroundings goes to show who we are and later molds how we interact with nature around us.


Once I switched my phone into Airplane Mode, I thought of my walk as a sort of derive—something I l had not done in a few months, come to think of it. I didn’t invest much thought into where I was going outside of “make sure you can get back to where you entered the park”. In this, I felt more at peace with my surroundings. I listened to a jazz band for a moment, then let the wind serenade me with its casual whistle.

At one point I came upon a rock in the sun, and just sat down and enjoyed the sun on my face. That’s when I noticed I was actually sharing that rock with a homeless man who was fast asleep in the sun, head buried and shoes off his feet. I wrote a poem exploring the idea of exposure to the elements, and thought of how easy it was to generate ideas—this reminded me of the Thoreau we read in class and on recluse into away from people. But even this was not entirely in focus, as every time someone would take out their phone, I would nosily peer at whatever they were doing. A couple lounging beside me had taken numerous selfies together on that rock, which made me so tempted to disrupt them with a photobomb—it only seemed fair. (I didn’t.)

Taken by myself, from atop my favorite perching place in Central Park


This was, in some way, my whistling locomotive. There was no disruption in the soundscape, but in the visual—something about me seeing people on their phones, with their cameras, etc. put a halt in my mental process. I didn’t think of my walk as a meditation up until this point. This increased my appreciation for Thoreau in that my reflectiveness was effected by those around me—and it was frustrating. Here is where I developed a deeper appreciation for Thoreau.

For those who have ever seen or read “Into the Wild” I kept putting myself in the place of Chris McCandless, retreating in vain only to come back to the urban world. Here, my “nature” is limited in myself—it is more spiritual than physical. Therein is where my appreciation for nature is from.


2 thoughts on “As Close to Wild as I am Capable

  1. Nadine I can imagine seeing people on their phones while you were on your walk was distracting. Our phones have become an extension of ourselves, well for some of us -guilty as charged (no pun intended)- and I wonder if this has affected our relationship with nature as you yourself ponder. You sitting on the rock soaking in the sun made me think of photosynthesis and then you dressed up as a sunflower. The homeless man sharing the rock with you was a reminder that not everyone can engage in nature as an experiment, pastime or leisure activity. It made me wonder how do NYC wandering homeless and displaced people interact with nature since they are arguably forced to exist in it without stable self-owned shelter in the form of a house of home? What would Thoreau do, would he have to analyze his position of privilege if he was a contemporary man? Sorry it was a tangent but excellent post as always!


  2. I liked the description of the things you did during the walk. I got the sense you enjoyed your time in the park even though you found the phones other people had distracting. I wanted to know more about the JAZZ music you listen to. do you know the song or some of the melody how did the music made you feel during the walk. The connections you made to Thoreau Solitude fits your nature walk perfectly. You tried to get away from everyday life but it was impossible to do so. I felt your appreciation for nature during your observation of the rock in the sun


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