My Natural Instructors

Alfonso - Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Entered on December 16, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I have had a fascination for living things for as long as I can remember. If it moves at all, it piques my interest immediately. I see the school’s resident cat and I stop to watch it eat and purr and rub against me. I see a bug somewhere and I pay attention to everything it does, possibly allowing it to crawl all over my hands again and again. I do not go on many nature walks, unfortunately, but when I do I love being able to look at my surroundings in search for the life I know exists. An even greater privilege is to directly interact with what life I do find when appropriate. I could stay in a forest or park forever.

And I truly believe that life has taught me important life skills.

Some life is fragile, delicate. I realized that I had to be very careful when dealing with life; now, I sometimes feel awkward handling animals because I am scared I will hurt them – or, in some instances, that I will be hurt. I use this immense capacity for care and caution in other areas of my life. I am not careless with anything, especially if it does not belong to me; I treat everything with care. The caution that I learned, I now use to avoid dangerous or compromising situations. If there appears to be a risk involved, I thoroughly assess it before taking action.

Another feature of life is its typically adverse reaction to invasion. Get too close to a mockingbird’s nest or an alligator’s hatchling or an ant colony’s anthill, and there will be consequences. These animals want a sense of space, of security, of respect, and I have learned to respect and to not be invasive or cross certain boundaries. These valuable lessons can be applied on a much deeper level to people. When interacting with other individuals, I am not intrusive or offensive, but instead friendly, sociable, and most of all, approachable.

Finally, despite its prominence, life sometimes appears to be absent, leaving an empty yard or an empty forest. It’s still there, of course: we just need to look a little closer. In my search for life in a time when it seems scarcer by the day, I have learned to become more observant and attentive. My abilities to observe and look for details are now some of my most useful traits, and I draw on them to produce high quality work in and out of the classroom. I will undoubtedly continue to profit from my precision as I progress to other phases in my life.

We have plenty of insight and wisdom to share with each other, to be sure. But we should not let our lessons drown out those of our fellow creatures.