Thursday, January 7, 2010

We Are Surrounded By Nature

in years past i did a lot of hitchhiking and long distance bicycle travel. those adventures took me through all kinds of places - but most notably, into a city, then out into the country, then into another city and so on.

i soon became familiar with the feeling of observing nature wherever i was. if i was in a national park i would observe nature. and if i was in the parking lot of a mcdonald's i would observe nature. it became one of my favorite ideas that the distinction between man-made and nature is a false one. and it caused my vision to become so much more fascinated and compassionate towards people and the things we make.

for example, when we walk into a mall, to some degree we probably do it thinking that we are in a mundane place where things are normal, and run normally. but, when we think of a mall, and the people inside it, as being part of nature, (not a boring man-made place) we are moved to observe much more. and then we can see so much more beauty, brilliance, and soul within it.

the human race is not superimposed over nature. we are part of nature.

this morning i went for a walk down my street and i remembered this thought i have loved for so long. and again my thoughts on my neighborhood were renewed. i saw how light blessed the houses. i watched the folks walking to the subway, the crossing guard in the street as the kids get off the bus at school. this is nature. this is the world moving like the wind in the trees.

i have often felt so freed by this concept because, rather than having to travel (to the mountains, or the beach, or whatever) to enjoy the beauty of nature, i just walk out my front door. a few years ago a friend and i decided to walk from my house, east, until we came to the ocean. it was about a 3 mile walk and we had only a vague idea what we would encounter. so, we found all kinds of neighborhoods, architecture, interactions with people, views, grafitti, parks, ethnicities... the list goes on.

it is a fascinating, beautiful world, and we miss a lot if we think of ourselves as being unnatural. we are natural. we are part of the world.


  1. Amen to that! I get to experience a lot of, let's say, traditional nature. But I totally love observing the natural state and abilities and elements in any environment.

  2. Alex, love the reflection and the reminder to notice and appreciate the world around us. I found this poem years ago and have come back to it many times. enjoy.

    The Art of Awareness

    The art of awareness is the art of learning
    how to wake up
    to the external miracle of life with its limitless possibilities:
    It is striving to stretch the range of eye and ear;
    it is taking time to look and listen and comprehend
    It is searching for beauty everywhere,
    in a flower, a mountain, a machine, a sonnet and a symphony.
    It is knowing wonder, awe, and humility in the face of life’s unexplained mysteries.
    It is discovering the mystic power of silence
    and coming to know the secret inner voice of intuition.
    It is enlarging the scope of your life
    through the expansion of your personality.
    It is avoiding blind spots in considering problems and situations;
    it is striving to see life steadily and see it whole.
    It is identifying yourself with the
    hopes, dreams, fears and longings of others,
    that you may understand them and help them.
    It is keeping mentally alert to all that goes on around you;
    it is being curious, observant, imaginative
    that you may build an ever increasing
    fund of knowledge of the Maker of the universe.

    Poem By: Wilfred Peterson