Nature Lures Free Thinking | Teen Ink

Nature Lures Free Thinking

December 7, 2022
By mdtortor BRONZE, Los Angeles, California
mdtortor BRONZE, Los Angeles, California
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

In the dead of winter in the hills of Vermont, which might as well have been Antarctica because of the stabbing cold winds, I had snapped out of a frozen stupor to myself walking through the woods with my family. The only thought that crossed my mind was the idea of getting back to the warm hotel room and escaping the negative twenty wind chills. Cusses flow through my stream of consciousness as the serrated snowflakes impale the skin on my face one by one every half second. I can’t feel a bone in my body at this point and every exposed part of my body is redder than a tomato. What possibly could have possessed me to entertain the idea of going outside with this windstorm in full effect? The only thing getting me through this hike were the astonishing views of the rolling New England hills and breathtaking sights of villages and valleys from the mountains I had been staying in. Each time I get to visit a new place, this feeling of intense awe consumes me, and is what keeps me exploring.

Similarly, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to visit my family in Oregon from time to time, and the difference between the large mountains and stunning rough oceanside is beyond comparison. Standing beside Haystack Rock off the coast of central Oregon, hearing the waves collapse against it, distracted by the mildly salty smell consuming the coastline will surely put anybody in an elevated state of mind. The intense euphoria of being out in nature, and the variety of sights this country has to offer are impeccable. I believe that by surrounding yourself with new sights in nature and being open to new perspectives, you’re able to open your mind greatly. Exposing yourself to new environments and cultures will cause you to feel more in-touch with both issues and advantages of said areas.

Both in my hometown and here in Tempe, I have, as many would, meet many people who put no emphasis on travelling when they very well have the means to do so. Something I have noticed about people who don’t care much to get out is that often times they tend to have more closed-minded perspectives. By this I mean people who do not actively pursue to experience their life from that of another person, they would be more likely to ‘stick to what they know’, and adapt mindsets that pertain only to themselves, formed by the experiences of where they’re from.

From the inverse viewpoint, if I were not to have had any experiences in which I was surrounded by intense nature across different places, I would be significantly more prone to thinking that my home is all there is to life. How can one learn the livelihoods, struggles, or prides of others when all they know are the plains of Texas, or the lakes of Minnesota? Furthermore, should I not have been exposed to the constant rush of New York City; cars blaring horns 25/8; businessmen and women sprinting between meetings; the blinding lights of Times Square; the inescapable reek of marijuana and voices hollering from all angles, why would I ever care about or want to know more about how New Yorkers go about their days?

Here in Phoenix, Arizona, locals experience an entirely different way of life than I would have growing up. Located in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, palm trees sway year round, the ever-present sun scorching every square inch of the sand that blows endlessly and every pore of my skin. The arid, strong wind howls through eardrums and thrusts tumbleweeds for miles between vast freeways and free-standing mountains. However, unlike most other areas, lacking in scent. These have been my experiences in the Valley of the Sun that in no way align with my experiences in Oregon, California, New England, Florida, Texas, etc.

This is why I insist placing yourself in nature, and not necessarily in a location that is close to where you call home, is essential to maintaining an open view towards the rest of the world. In my opinion, it is the sobering, breathtaking, awe-filled moments where you are able to ground yourself with everything around you that promote awareness of self and environment which is something everybody needs to upkeep within themselves.

The author's comments:

This piece has allowed me to reminisce my experiences growing up in New England while having lived in Arizona for several months now. I enjoyed writing this recalling all of my memories from home both good and not so good. 

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