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My Transcendentalist Journey

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I am not particularly fond of the sounds of nature. I am not interested in the freedom nature has to offer man. I am not captivated by nature’s purity tainted by man. Yet, why am I thinking these things as I stand upon the damp ground below me? Why is it that I cannot help myself from enjoying the fresh air? From hearing the sounds the birds make as they flock together in an organized, yet equally unconfined group? I can only understand that nature is having a profound effect upon me in my solitude because I have never quite understood nature as well as I am doing right now.

The tree that usually looks boring to me, today, looks different. I ponder about why that is until I am interrupted in my thoughts when I spot a squirrel! It climbs down from somewhere towards the top of the tree and it stops when it sees me. It does a double take, and makes eye contact with me until it scurries off in the other direction. I cannot believe what I just witnessed. The squirrel, with an acorn in its hand, looked at me! I couldn’t help but think of the squirrel as a thief looking on both sides of him, making sure no one follows him. It makes me think about how we, as humans, behave. We behave just like squirrels, following our passions and achieving our goals, and often looking behind to make sure we are not being chased or hunted. But that’s not the entire reason…we are afraid that someone will steal our “acorn,” our passions and goals. The acorns are all the same, the difference is how we each try to obtain them; some of us may climb and get them, while others of us will wait for the acorn to naturally fall down from the tree on its own. It is a part of human nature to try and achieve our goals, but we should be more aware that what really makes us human are the different ways in how each of us try to accomplish them.

Behind me, I spot a shrub beautifully decorated with pine needles, glimmering eloquently due to the recent rainfall. As I pick out one of the pine needles, I hear a sound deeper in the shrub. At first, I back away out of fear, but then I spot the source of the mysterious sound: four cats. Judging from their sizes, it seemed to me like it is a mother and three kittens. The mother is licking her cubs because they are cold. At this moment, I want to just go back inside and get a blanket for the family, but I know that they might run away if I do that. As I’m pondering what to do, I notice the kittens and the mother have stopped licking each other and are all looking at me instead. For the first time in my life, I understand the helplessness we possess as humans when face to face with nature. Even though I am a human, and am superior to the cats, when I looked them in the eyes, I felt inferior to them. I felt guilty being to do anything for them when they so desperately needed it. I finally realize that it’s not the grandeur of nature that makes me feel helpless, but its nature’s prompt of self-realization that makes me helpless. Nature is forcing me to face myself and understand my actions and take responsibility for them. I watch the cats now leave, but my heart still feels heavy for the guilt about just watching them suffer silently and not do anything about it.

I lie down and rest my head against the trunk of the tree. For the first time, I don’t care that my pants are wet from sitting on the moist grass, or how my hair looks. Just then, I feel a tingling on my neck, a really subtle, but still noticeable touch. I turn my body so I am now facing closely at the tree bark. I notice there are an enormous number of ants occupying just that one spot where my head was resting! As I watch the ant all clutter and move around together, I can’t help but feel that this chaos among the ants is the foundation of their system. For the ants, overpopulation is necessary or else they will have more trouble finding their food. I can’t help but wonder: that’s the exact opposite of our society! For us, chaos is equivalent to insanity, but is that because we don't know how to make use of it? The ants work together in teams to achieve their common goal: food; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean each ant does not have an individual goal. Humans lack something that ants have a surplus of: empathy. If we cared more for each other, we might be able to do the same things as the ants: achieve our common goals, while also fulfilling our individual goals. As I leave, the wind blows a pleasant breeze towards my face, as if saying, “see you soon.”




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