A Renewal By Nature

Benjamin - Providence, Rhode Island
Entered on January 19, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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A Renewal By Nature

I believe that everyone needs to spend time outdoors and be exposed to wildlife and wilderness. I find that being outdoors is one of the most relaxing and refreshing activities that people can do. I grew up in a town in northwest Arkansas that was nestled on the edge of a plateau and surrounded by forests and small mountains. Most of my childhood was spent on my grandparents farm which was nearly six hundred acres of woods, creeks, and small cliffs. As far back as I can remember I was always waiting to be done with my chores or schoolwork so I could get outside to fish, climb, or hike. It was my form of catharsis. I remember one time during the winter I was very angry with my father and I decided to go for a hike to clear my head. As I began to walk, I could feel my muscles starting to work, my lungs expanding with cool air, my heart starting to increase its pace, and my mind beginning to let go of all my worldly troubles. I was able to calm down enough to return to the house and discuss the problem with my father and everything worked out for the better.

Exploring the outdoors isn’t just a way for me to clear my head. Hiking or any physical activity that gets you outside and into the fresh air is good for both body and mind. The current generations spend too much time in front of the television or computer, watching shows and movies, playing video games, or surfing the web. This sort of activity, or should I say inactivity, breeds unhealthy people. If the populace spends all of its time sitting in rooms in the dark and breathing the recycled air from the conditioners, it will take a toll on their bodies. Humans need to be exposed to sunlight to have their bodies to produce Vitamin B, which keeps our minds healthy and helps fight off emotional disorders like depression. Outdoor activities also stimulate our muscles and hearts and help prevent high cholesterol and weak hearts. I always try to engage twice a week in at least one physically demanding activity for each season. I believe that it is necessary for me to spend as much time as I can in natural environments because humans weren’t meant to be in cramped up in boxes away from the rest of the world.

Spending more time outdoors will also naturally lead to a greater sense of environmental responsibility. Many people don’t feel responsible because they have not been exposed to the problems that can be caused when humans are not conscious of the repercussions their actions will have on the environment. Recently, I was canoing down a river in central Arkansas just taking in the sights and I saw a gas tank floating in the water just a little bit downstream from me. Actions, such as a person not preventing the gas tank from getting in the water, have had dire effects on animals in the ecosystem. A few years back an oil rig had a collision at sea and tore its hull open spilling millions of gallons of crude oil into the water, killing countless numbers of creatures and resulting in a clean up effort that is still going on today. If people were more environmentally friendly and conscious, we wouldn’t have such tragedies as those.

Spending more time with nature just gives humans a better understanding overall of who and what they are. Nature is humbling in many ways. When I graduated from high-school, I took a trip to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado as senior trip. We decided we were going to hike up the mountains, fourteen thousand feet, just so we could say we did. We made camp at eleven thousand feet and the next day began our journey. Once we made it to the top, completely exhausted and gasping for breath, we looked out at the world beneath us. I was then finally aware of just how small I am. I was aware of the fact that my life is completely insignificant to the mountain. It had been there for thousands and thousands of years, and will be there for countless more. It gave me a desire to live my life to the fullest and to try and not take anything for granted. I believe that we can learn so much from the world around us.

I believe in exploring the great outdoors. Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “I come home to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful. I have told many that I walk every day about half the daylight, but I think they do not believe it. I wish to get the Concord, the Massachusetts, the America, out of my head and be sane a part of every day.” I believe that nature is the source of true happiness and sanity.