An Introspective View of Nature’s Impact on “Whole Life” Satisfaction

A Look Backwards at Nature’s Impact Whole Life Satisfaction

I will start by making a general “assumption” about myself compared to my fellow classmates. Forgive me if my personal perspective is inaccurate.

I am 63 years old, pursuing an additional degree in WGS subsidized by the VA. This particular post is the most interesting and personally relevant. I will begin by describing myself as “An extremely sensitive empath.” My momentary “state-of-mind” is easily manipulated by outside forces and circumstances. Reflecting back to my childhood, the best memories I still hold are spending time in my neighbor’s “magical property”. In a stereotypic suburban neighborhood, our backyard neighbor was an elderly woman who had owned the land for many years. The property was an “anomaly” in the otherwise homogenized suburban sprawl. There was a fishpond, beautiful large trees, vegetable and flower gardens and many different types of wildlife. It was the idyllic place to play and commune with nature. It was a secret garden filled with wonder and magic.

The photo below is the only one in my office (other than my grandchildren). It reminds me of the “Best of Times”…and after some reflecting…almost all of my memories are centered some way around “nature”.

Four Corners USA 

Myself and my 2 older sons at "4 Corners" US 1998
This photo is the only one in my office of “family”. It was taken 25 years ago. It was a very special time. I now have a third son and granddaughter.

This photo does symbolize “My Bedrock Democracy” . “Once strengthened by our association with the wild, we can return to family and community.  Each of us belongs to a particular landscape, one that informs who we are, a place that carries our history, our dreams, holds us to a moral line of behavior that transcends thought”. ….”This is the hope of a bedrock democracy, standing our ground in the places we love together. “(Williams 19). There are many times I feel like a displaced person. The forces between nature and modern “civilization” in the Western world seem diametrically opposed. 

Bell Hooks writes: “How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of water, how do you buy them? To me this statement is fact and not an opinion. In this case, Bell Hooks defines place as “everywhere”.

Personally, like many people, I am a Barbara Kingsolver fan. I found this week’s writings especially relevant “….. I didn’t need to be in Africa as I wrote that book; I only needed to be where I could think straight, remember, and properly invent. I needed the blessed emptiness of mind that comes from birdsong and dripping trees. I needed to sleep at night in a square box made of chestnut trees who died of natural causes. The natural habitat of our species is now steel, pavement, streetlights, architecture and enterprise — the hominid agenda . … I find this exodus from the land makes me unspeakably sad Kingsolver It reminds us that our plans are small and somewhat absurd.” (Barbara Kingsolver).

Collectively, these writers all have a central common variable. People and nature are not disconnected from one another, they are a part of one another.  We were born from the water and will return to the earth. Politics can be an ally or an enemy against humanity when it fails to prioritize and unify what laws and practices are beneficial to both humanity as well as nature…..we are all the same. In this philosophy: place + people = politics. 

My profession is in the educational technology field, but I devote time to forming and directing a “Green Committee”. One of my favorite parts of my job is taking young children to a neighboring topiary garden after school to learn about plants and trees. During the work day, my background “noise” are bird song playlists.

I am fortunate enough to live next to a beach in MA. In the warmer weather, I get up early to walk the beach before most other people arrive in order to shoot photographs of the beach from a different, untouched perspective.

Beach Photos