Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 5:13:17 AM
I remember little from the first time I gallivanted through a forest. It was Yosemite National Park, and I only recall clouds of green and streaks speckled gold and maybe a bit of brown, and somewhere in some far off distance, a bird was singing. The only feeling I can consider plausible from that moment of birdsong was jealousy, a great, swarming cloud of envy. The bird, little and rather trivial though it seemed, had the right to call this place home.
This petty resentment still does swell up inside of me once in a while, even now that I have had many years to consider it. The monotony of the suburbs is far from adventurous, each house the exact clone of its neighbor, each tree trimmed to dainty perfection. These patterns seem incorrigibly unnatural and wholly bland, and even more so when I thought to compare them with the ever changing “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” randomness of nature that humans seem inexplicably desirous to erase.
Perfection seems to personify only outright sameness in the minds of many of us humans. True nature is seen as ruggedly uncouth and slightly too muddy, the trees just too gnarled and gracelessly uneven, the nearby stream too loud, the birds interruptive, the damp soil raunchy, the mountains thuggishly knobbly, the unhindered sun just too bright.
It took only a few moments under the thick canopy of leaves above me, a few heartbeats with patched sunlight dancing across my skin, to realize exactly how much nature’s lucid call would change me. Another glance at the trees and I saw the unwavering refuse of some far-away metropolis, steadfast despite the relentless barraging of wind. I watched the stream in fierce battle with a tumble of boulders, the mountains straight-backed despite the screeching storms. Even the birds didn’t falter, singing be there peace or sorrow or something in between. This impervious perseverance seemed to filled the forest, and as I stared into its depths, breathing in the summer breeze and running my fingers across a sea of grass, it seemed to diffuse through me, as well, inspiring me with new confidence and commitment that I had never before considered possible.
And when, a few years later, I discovered terms like “clear-cutting” and “dynamite” and “chainsaw,” I felt a great wave of sorrow that so many people would now never have the chance to listen, just for a few fleeting moments, to nature’s song, and would never be inspired in a way they couldn’t have been before.