This I Believe

Amanda - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Entered on July 10, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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My last experience with nature was in fourth grade: my class decorated miniature glass jars with colored sand and planted cacti in them. From then on wherever I went and whenever I ate and drank, so did my cactus – that is, at least until its jar began to flood. Long after my cactus died – its death was hastened by my 3 meals a day diet – I remembered the lessons that cactus taught me. I learned to accept responsibility for nature and to help nurture and keep it. I also learned that nature will not conform to society’s standards.

Man has and will always try to control nature because no matter how much we probe it, nature remains an enigma. Finding answers to questions of creation and how nature works is among the elusive projects scientists struggle with, yet nature and its preservation are last on the list of the average American’s priorities. In An Unspoken Hunger, Terry Williams describes this incongruity: “our lack of intimacy with each other is in direct proportion to our lack of intimacy with the land. We have taken our love inside and abandoned the wild.”

My relationship with nature is still developing. I do not and likely will never see nature as some saving grace or as a means of escaping the stress and complexity of life. Developing an appreciation of nature, however, is important; it puts one’s life into perspective and allows us to indulge in its simplicity. But is nature so important that we should stop our lives to stare at the petals of a flower?

Maybe nature is just a byproduct of fulfillment. I do not feel that nature in itself will bring me fulfillment in life despite the warnings of writers like Williams and others who say, “To disengage from the earth is our own oppression”(65). Too often authors present nature in only a positive light when we know from disasters like Hurricanes Isabel and Katrina that nature can be a negative force. Nature is not just happiness, daises, and butterflies. Nature is natural disasters; nature is natural selection. Nature is not always something I can look to for inspiration and beauty as most of the writers I have encountered can because nature does not always paint a pretty picture. I am glad that the majority of us do not spend our days outside in nature instead of being on the go. Without all of our activity nature would seem less awe-inspiring and necessary. I believe prolonged exposure to nature will not grant me some ultimate serenity or inner peace because as George Santayana said, “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” Like this quotation I have realized that I cannot stand in awe at the beauty and inspiration of nature. I choose instead to be in awe of the motion in life, the nature of society, and how it all fits together. This I believe.