By Carlos Dabu
By now you, your spouse/significant other, your dog and even the elderly couple down the street have had the opportunity to take a stroll or two outside in the gorgeous weather Minnesota has been having. The leaves are turning green and the flowers are starting to bloom like our souls from their winter hibernation. Even the thunderous claps from the sky, pouring down on us these past few weeks have been beautiful in their own regard, inspiring spring attitudes and nostalgic memories of storms of yesteryears. This may all seem fine and dandy, but you ask, “What does this all mean?”
People through the ages have based their ethics and ideologies on how the natural world made them feel or see things differently, which has led to history-changing writings. You don’t need to live a block from Minnehaha Falls to be inspired by a breathtaking sight. As a wise man once said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Sound familiar? Brilliant words by a man considered the father of modern American nature writing, Henry David Thoreau. Writers like him and other canonical figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson changed the way we live our daily lives. Leopold, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and the author of A Sand County Almanac, taught us about environmental ethics, emphasizing the importance of biodiversity, whereas John Muir, author and environmental philosopher, was known for his adventures in nature. All of them just a little different, but all stem from the same inspiration.
For me, when I go out into the woods and find a good trail my whole perception of what matters in life shifts. The worries of everyday life slip away and my biggest concern is how much daylight I have left before the night settles upon me. It makes me want to do good in the world, protect what I see before me so my children’s children can enjoy it years down the road.
This past Tuesday, May 5, my co-lead pair and I took our high school youth to Thompson Regional Park for their education day. One of the main points we wanted to stress for the week was being able to appreciate everything around us and how we all can interpret it differently. It led to some constructive discussions and helped them really “stop and smell the roses.” Where one person saw the park as a good harbor for wildlife, another saw it as a way to provoke an emotional response of calm and beauty.
Not everyone perceives nature the same way, but that’s what makes it uniquely beautiful.