The new year means that it is time to welcome a new student editor to EC Squared. We’ve asked Claire to introduce herself with a letter.
Go places that inspire you. Go where you can find inspiration from simple things; clear water, fresh air, big rocks and trees. Inspiration is what fuels change.
I pick up an old torn photograph of a little girl. She’s wearing red cord overalls and cradling a fish. She’s next to her mom on a rock and her smile gleams from the photo.
My mom tells me the story often enough that it’s become ingrained in my memory. I was 5 years old and backpacking with my parents. Moping as we hiked up the steep hill, I wondered why my parents called this activity fun. My mother rewarded me with ten M&Ms for every mile. Breathing hard I look up and see we’ve reached a beautiful deep blue lake, the wind dances on the surface and I hear my dad’s happy voice announce, “we’ve made it!” He’s already fishing for dinner and I sneak up behind him to snag a fish from the cooler. I gallop away cradling the slimy fish close to my chest. Being the strange kid I was, I decided to keep it as my doll. I named it, stuck my tiny fingers in its mouth and decided it would be my entertainment for the remainder of the trip. I didn’t need any other form of amusing myself; being among nature was enough to make me simply happy. And still is.
Last weekend I went hiking in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains. I found myself wide-eyed and enchanted by my surroundings. My mind began racing with ideas, I was full of inspiration from what I call nature. As I hiked with my friend, he asked me the easiest, hardest question an environmentalist can be asked—
“What is Nature?”
I hesitate and quickly answer, “I’m still figuring that out myself.” We hike on I realize I do know my answer to the question.
There’s no concrete answer to the question what is nature. It’s how you perceive nature and what you take out of it that matters most. For me, nature is a form of inspiration. It’s a place to learn what you already know, it’s a place where you can listen to the sounds of the world and most importantly it’s a place to listen to how your thoughts coincide with those sounds.
I have a hard time calling myself an environmentalist because it’s a word that brings a lot of hypercriticism to the table. There are obvious efforts I can make to lower my carbon footprint, but it’s nearly impossible to be perfect. Most environmentalists will tell you that humans are bad. That we are cancer to the earth. While this may be true to some, in my eyes humans are a beautiful form of life. Here is a quote that rings true to me,
“You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.” –Max Ehrmann
Whatever your view of nature is, know that as a human, you are a part of it. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking about how small you are, and it’s good to have those humbling moments. But also realize how important you are as part of the universe, how you are one of a kind and how you are just as important as the birds, the moss the trees and the moon you curiously gaze into each night. As humans, we are a part of nature and if we have any respect for ourselves, then we need to change the way we’re living.
My curiosity and excitement is still that of my five-year-old self when I spend time in these inspiring areas. Although I was young, I still feel this way when I’m in the midst of nature.
So go! Find inspiration through nature and maybe you will acquire a deep-rooted sentiment to want to protect the places that inspire you. But I don’t really recommend cradling dead fish.