As I find the perfect slope, I take out a ripe green Bruin Plate apple and rest my head on my teal backpack: it is time for my post-English Comp 3 Afternoon Nap. The sunlight smothers my forehead, and I sense the heat demolishing the flu microbes, slowly easing my “all freshmen get sick in their first week” fever. As the grass forms a firm mattress and the tree fans me, I slip into sadness. When I look at nature, I can’t help but imagine what the world could have been. The land on which I lay could have easily reared a bear family, but due to our invasiveness, forget the snatched land, that California grizzly bear family doesn’t even exist!
My eyes flinch as I hear a hard rustle. I divert my attention to the perfectly placed trees: a few in the center and the others on the perimeter. These props deemed “natural” make me wonder “how superficial can we be?” Our generation thrives on the idea of being natural: saving the turtles and eating organic. These clever marketing tactics playing on human conscience portray the natural world as perfect.
Real nature is murky. If you don’t believe me, just hear it from the thousands of colonists who disdained natural Indian practices. Now, ironically, all everyone wants to do is strut khadi cotton and inhale that fresh yoga air to be one with the natural world. They don’t know that real nature is not yoga in a perfectly manicured rose garden. Real nature is yoga in the concealed, mushy corner of this garden that is strewn with crunchy decaying leaves. Even in the meticulously engineered part of nature that I sit in, I twist my leg and notice ANTS crawling up my knee. These ants aren’t harming me in any way, but my quick reflex is to push them off. It stings my guilty conscience that ants are living creatures too. As much as I am taught to respect all living beings, my fear that stems from everything society has taught me about ant-related deaths, monopolizes me.
We aren’t that integrated with nature anymore, rather we try to integrate nature into our synthetic lives. This enclosure contains no fruit-bearing trees, only perfectly selected big-broccoli-shaped trees for shade. I witness the forced symmetry in the trimmed square bushes that outlined a circular path in the eye of the garden and ponder. If nature is supposedly pure, then nature stopped existing the day the agricultural revolution began, the first time humans began organizing nature. Funny enough though, everything in nature has a balance: sure humans can now, enabled by the neolithic revolution, mass-produce food, but by creating a monoculture this takes a toll on the human diet. In prehistory going out in nature and working hard to find food ensured a varied diet rich in different fruits and berries. Our ancestors had an enriching journey when it came to procuring food that even helped with their fitness. The adventure also heightened their appreciation for the food they were able to gather thanks to the blessings from mother nature. We don’t relate to that because businesses grow what we want and we choose what we eat. If food was left to be natural, who knows what new type of berries evolution would have produced for us to devour!
I know nature is more than just plants, insects, and animals. Nature is the authenticity that lies within us. It is the bare emotions we feel. Nature is our soul. So when I was told to take a trip to the natural world, I couldn’t help but look within. I intensely stare at the tree, wondering how it’s chained soul feels. It is assigned a role — to provide shade — and the moment it fails, it’s replaced. The tree is trapped in this garden, just like me. I am raised by society, nurtured with knowledge, and primly cut with social expectations. The tree that people see as real, is just as fake as me.
Watching the grass flicker, and the wind form a thin film around my face, as it engulfs my body, my eyes remain untouched by it. I feel discomfort in the way the wind dodged my eyes. The same wind glides up and gently cradles the angelic clouds and drifts away with them until I see faint white cotton-like strands take their place. Where are they taking them? People think they know about the wind, but I think there’s more to discover in this force, maybe winds are souls that drift high and low, watching us dominate nature. I hope mankind does not take too much curiosity in the way the wind blows or soon we will domesticate these winds — the little nature left untouched — too.
Today, we stand upon the lands of the Californians, the Native Americans, the animals that lived before them, the plants that thrived prior to that, and even the amoeba that grew at first. The land stays only as vivacious as we leave it. Be courteous, kind, and respectful to your surroundings. You don’t know the next creature who’s going to inhabit our Earth and seek “the natural world.” There’s a time to stop conquering nature and that time is now.
As I walk out of the garden, I notice my fever is gone but I am gifted with two bug bites.
Nature has a balance, and we eventually account for it.