Purple Ribbon

November 8, 2011
As I walked out into the open air, which is unusual in and of itself on a school day in the middle of English class, my eyes immediately flew to the bright purple, curly ribbon on the ground. On a normal day, my eyes would have breezed right past this symbol of school spirit that so often adorned the heads of my classmates, but not today. Today, my teacher reminded me of the importance of nature through her lesson on Transcendentalism. Today, this synthetic ribbon seemed so out of place on this precious strip of paradise that lay between two sections of the parking lot.
Disregarding the thoughts in the back of my mind that I should be sent to an insane asylum for creating symbolism out of thin air and at the same time trying to concentrate solely on this little strip of land, seemingly such a small dedication to all the beauty nature can bring, I observed this small, insignificant piece of ribbon. It seemed to me the epitome of transcendentalist thinking: perfectly materialistic in the midst of one of the only pieces of nature on the school property that wasn’t impeded by a football field or a brick building. This small ribbon that, on a normal day, would have been completely disregarded by my wandering eye suddenly became a symbol of American luxury and excess. I was immediately and somewhat irrationally hyperaware of the impeccable paint on my fingernails and the makeup caked on my face. Why had I never noticed how beautiful the trees were in the midst of all this rushing and traffic?
I was frustrated with society. I was frustrated with how easy it was to conform and how difficult it was to stand alone. My nail polish and carefully applied eye shadow seemed so trivial in comparison to what the world had done to nature and to the beauty that once engulfed the Earth but was now replaced with skyscrapers, reality television, and consumerism.
Although this radical change in mindset didn’t exactly transform me into a Transcendentalist, it certainly made me more aware of the vital role nature plays in the world and how truly unappreciated it is. After all, Emerson does say that coming to new realizations and forming one’s own ideas is crucial. Maybe someday I can truly follow through with his plan and take action against these injustices. For now, I’ll be content to appreciate nature from the comfort of my couch.

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