Mother nature is one parent we should all honor, protect

Column by Natalie Glover

I was talking with an out-of-state friend on the phone the other day, and I asked him where he was.

“Outside,” he replied, and he began to describe to me a really cool bird he saw that had a white body and red-tipped wings. It made me think about how rare it is for some of us to really step back and appreciate nature.

Among those who suck at “stopping to smell the roses,” literally, is me.

I mean, I think flowers are pretty, especially the ones on that dogwood near the Student Center, but I admire it from behind the counter at Starbucks. And this is just horrible. I don’t spend nearly enough time outside to enjoy the air, the grass and the sunsets.

I think there’s something special about the people who adore nature. My best friend is one of them. She loves to hike, and she’ll go to different outdoor places just to explore it all. Or she’ll remark how pretty the sky looks.

These are all things that I am conscious of to a degree, but not so much that I include them in my conversation.

When we do embrace nature, I think we feel more whole. More human, maybe even more divine.

There’s an author I like, Rob Bell, who says that we’re disconnected from the earth, and we can feel it, even if we have no words for it.

The premise of so many car commercials, he observes, is leaving the city for the terrain or the mountains because of this very fact.

“It’s possible to go days without spending any significant time outside,” he says, “And it’s still considered living.”

A 2004 psychological study published in the journal Spirituality and Health International points out three ways of experiencing nature.

One is viewing it, such as through a window or in a painting.

The second is being surrounded by it, which happens when you bike to school or work or hang out in a local park with some friends.

The third is direct involvement with it, which happens when you do things like gardening, farming and running.

There is evidence that all three forms offer mental health benefits, and physical ones too, when paired with some form of physical activity.

You know it’s beneficial to keep a potted plant on your desk and have heard that “the sunlight will do you good.” And if you’ve had the experience of climbing a tree and perching in its branches (something I’ve done once or twice but not nearly enough), you understand how cool it is.

I’m always surprised how much more pleasant a time I have at restaurants when a friend suggests we sit outside, and it hit me last night that one reason I like Coffea Island more than other coffee shops is because they have live plants.

One thing we can’t forget is that it’s our responsibility to take care of nature, as well; it’s done such a good job of caring for us, and we take it for granted.

I remember walking into Patterson Office Tower several weeks ago to find a small throng of students and faculty peacefully but passionately holding signs, banging drums, and speaking out to save Robinson Forest.

The fact that they cared so much really warmed my heart, and hit me over the head at the same time.

“You know it’s a meaningful cause, so why aren’t you doing more things like that?” my conscience asked.

I often say I’m too busy for things, but that’s really no excuse.

All students can do their part to help out, whether it’s saving Robinson Forest, helping out with Earthdays in the Bluegrass or recycling the cans and bottles they use at home. We can all pick up trash when we see it, use less water and electricity, and fight our incessant desire to consume.

This is the only planet we have, and all forms of creation deserve our respect.

So if you are a tree-hugger, know that I admire you and that I’m going to try to emulate you as best I can as the summer months approach. If you’re like me and you’ve gotten a little too obsessed with the indoors, let the sky be your roof more often.

Natalie Glover is a psychology and philosophy senior. E-mail

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