I stared at the vibrant yellow leaves above me, as they rustled in the cool November breeze, under the bright sunny skies in Mosholu Parkway. The weather was a rarity, as people walked down the black cement trails with t-shirts and light hooded sweaters over their torsos, with smiling faces that only made the day even brighter. I was sitting down a pine colored bench as I took in the life in front of me. Life that transcended past the existence of animals and people, and took forms in the cars that moved up and down the roads, the grocery bags and candy wrappers that appeared at home on the prickly grass, and the benches. Oh my, the benches! The benches that showed years of life on their wooden planks as paint chippings plagued its aesthetic, but not its beauty.
To sit amongst the nature defeated the purpose of becoming one with it, and thus I walked along the onyx colored roads to wake up from the blurry reality that has blocked my vision from a world that I was born in. A world where nature and its beauty can now be seen through the glass of an overpriced phone, where a double tap on the glass signifies our gratitude. No wind breezing through the lobes of my ears, the sounds of birds chirping muted, and the loss of touch, smell, sound, are all just a thing of the past. Yet, that continues to be the environment that I was born in. The distinction with environment and nature can be summed up in words that I feel hold truth, especially to myself. You can always change your environment, there is nothing that can stop you from being free in a place where you would like to feel free in. The environment in this day and age continues to be centered on the ideas of the “want”, where life just depends on who has the newest phone, makes the most money, the most fashionable of clothes.
I do not judge these people, but it continues to be something that I look past, and I am not interested in being a part of. It is one thing to be economically prosperous, but to base your life on the idea of materialism defeats the purpose of living life. In the article, “Can there be a less materialist American Dream?”, Rebecca J. Rosen interviews cultural critic Juliet Schor, on the ways in which materialism has grown in the United States. She states how most Americans view the ability to gain the American Dream, by being economically stable and acquiring all necessities, but many Americans go beyond basic necessities. I note Walden for being the complete antithesis of this notion, and Thoreau made a clear understanding that can be sort of relatable at this time. Happiness usually goes through being able to live life as freely and happy as possible, but depending on the environment. Walden had the luxury of being in an environment ruled by nature, and he figured out a way to be as minimal as possible. While this can not be entirely mimicked in this day and age, the ability to limit personal goods to as minimal as a degree as possible can help man save money, and be even more financially secure as possible. Thus, American Dream can be changed into something that many Americans will be able to grab and make a reality.
Thus, the environment that I live in today, only will continue to shape the minds and lives of future generations, as it did in generations before mine, in times where the environment was much more different than it is now. Where life was different, when technology was not the same, when people were seen as different because of the color of our skin, people learned to adapt in these environments, and they pushed and struggled to move forward, rather than to be held to the present that they were subjected to. We must look at our environment and talk about the ways in which we can better it.
As I mentioned earlier, the distinction between environment and nature can be clearly seen through the lenses that we put on when we walk outside. Money can never buy the sounds the birds make when walking down the roads. There may be an app for that, but what good is it when you can go outside to hear it for free? Nature lives and will continue to live once we leave this earth, so why not take it advantage of it when we are still living? Nature changes, but it continues to be something that we are not able to control. The sounds the leaves make when I step on its delicate exterior don’t crumble to please me, but I can’t go without feeling happy to know that there is no other sound that can mimic it. The trees that hover over my head will one day not be there, but the reality of seeing an actual tree was a blessing on its own. The roads along the parkway became apart of the nature that is the urban jungle we call the Bronx. Cars move past me in, as time continues to tick away. Roadways and vehicles were able to transcend past the environment they were so used to be a part of, and be one with nature. To take in nature and all its beauty was something that will continue to live in me for years to come, and will be expressed in future generations in ways that our environment shapes our storytelling in. Nature affects our lives in ways we cannot imagine happening. The unknown and the ability to see it in front of us, allows for some mysteriousness, a beautiful mysteriousness.