A greater appreciation for nature
Recently I finished reading Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this title, it is the novel on which the new James Franco movie 127 Hours is based. After reading this book, along with Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild and William Faulkner’s short story “The Bear,” I find myself reflecting on the unsurpassed beauty of nature and how an appreciation for the wilderness is slowly slipping away from today’s seemingly advanced society. But I have to ask: advanced in what sense? Is it in the sense that we are taking over practically every last spot of greenery on this planet to replace it with more corporate buildings and parking lots? Our culture is so focused on growing, creating and building that along the way, we are destroying the purest and most natural thing on this Earth — the wild.
So many aspects of our present society are artificial, yet nature is the one uncontaminated thing that has the ability to relieve and revive our human spirits. These same spirits have become so consumed by stress, business, power and control. This is why people spend millions of dollars every year to walk along the edge of the Grand Canyon or sink their toes in the sands of Hawaii. It is why people simply feel the need to “take a walk” when they become upset or irritated. We humans are innately drawn to the calming sensation of the natural outdoors. Maybe it’s because we cannot control it, cannot calculate it, cannot overcomplicate it or even explain it. Whatever the reason may be, nature grants us a sense of perspective that cannot be obtained from anywhere else. We have so much to learn from the wilderness — why would we ever want to minimize or destroy it?
I think Krakauer articulates my point perfectly in his book Into The Wild: “You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living.”
Now I’m not saying we should all ditch our modern lives to go live like nomads in the forest or climb the highest mountain peak to gain a sense of perspective. Instead we should spend more time and effort every day realizing the true importance of nature and work earnestly to protect it. Just look around you — our very own NAU campus is full of natural beauty and wonder, if we take the time to notice it. Buildings will crumble and jobs may be lost, but everything natural is infinite — here long before us and, I hope, long after us.