Nature calms my heart and nourishes my soul – she is my solace and my greatest teacher. I admit, the comforts of mankind prevent me from living in the wild, and I really do love human interaction, but I could be content living in nature for the remainder of my life.
Early on, I think it was my mom’s insistence that we play outside during the day that helped me get in tuned with nature. From the age of four, my large family lived among the Florida flora of oaks, pines, palmettos and Spanish moss in the small town of Fruit Cove. It was here that I was able to connect barefoot with the earth and witness how life can work effortlessly and seamlessly – if we don’t interfere. Nature showed me how to work in cooperation, to conserve, to adapt to conditions, and make the best use of resources in order to thrive. These were lessons I took for granted until moving to New York City just after turning nineteen.
You’d think that leaving the boondocks for The Big Apple would be a culture shock, but the city reveals its own synergy that made me feel at home. Maybe that’s what I recognized in an environment so diametrically different from my home town. To a great extent, any place with a dense population has to work in accordance with natural laws in order to function efficiently. Otherwise, workers could not commute, necessities wouldn’t be distributed, waste could not be removed, and life would be chaos. There has to be a certain level of unison for a city to survive.
In 2011, on a fifty Mile Walk for Peace in every state, I saw both unity and chaos throughout. Where there was cooperation, conservation, adaptation and efficient use of resources, there was harmony. Where these qualities were not in place, there was discord. It was that simple.
Most of the miles I spent in each state were trekked through nature, so it was clear to see how peace could be reflected in areas that followed similar laws. It was one of the great benefits of the journey and it constantly reinforced my own awareness of unity and cooperation. Peace and harmony dwells in nature and we could stand to learn much by following her example.
There are plenty of examples in every state that offer guidance to achieve peace. The evidence is shown in Middle Run Valley or Lums Park in Delaware all the way to the rainforests of Hawaii. All we have to do is let the laws of preservation prevail.
The problems that cause systems to go awry, both in nature and in civilization, happen when consumerism takes precedent over natural laws. When we do not work in mutual cooperation, when we use more than we need, when we fail to adapt, and when we are wasteful, systems cannot sustain themselves. This is as evident in a macrocosm, like a city, as it is in a microcosm.
Like ecosystems, the human body is also a microcosm on its host, Mother Earth. We can use the same awareness of our own health to attend to the health of the world. If we know better than to not expend endless energy without refueling ourselves, why would we extract, consume and expend from the earth and expect it to have an endless supply? Our planet can only replenish itself with its available resources, so why do we go on as though it could not be exhausted? Why would we think excessive consumption without replenishment would not cause an imbalance? How is it we act as though the earth will just continue to adapt, regardless of how we treat her? How do we think excessive wastefulness and waste products will not leave irreparable damage? To not address these questions and to refuse to acknowledge the answers is insane and we’re headed toward insanity.
We have become accustomed to a system that has created inequity and imbalance. That doesn’t mean it has to remain that way. We can eliminate much of our imbalance if we just live simpler. To use a Gandhian reference, if we continue to get so caught up in the dramas of life that we lose connection to simply living, we will not live. We will self-destruct.
There is a simpler path that can be found by seeking the solace and wisdom in nature. She will never let us down and she will always guide us back on a path to peace.
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