Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

 Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays!  By the middle of the workweek, I know that I'm ready for a pick-me-up, for some inspiration -- and for that reason I decided to post a nature photo or quote each Wednesday.  Perusing works of nature writing and photography helps me reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature, which is something we all can benefit from in the middle of a busy, stressful work week!

This Wednesday, I wanted to share a thought-provoking passage I stumbled across while perusing Henry David Thoreau's essay entitled "Walking" (published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862):
"If the heavens of America appear infinitely higher, and the stars brighter, I trust that these facts are symbolical of the height to which the philosophy and poetry and religion of her inhabitants may one day soar... For I believe that climate does thus react on man,--as there is something in the mountain-air that feeds the spirit and inspires.  Will not man grow to greater perfection intellectually as well as physically under these influences? ...I trust that we shall be more imaginative, that our thoughts will be clearer, fresher, and more ethereal, as our sky,-- our understanding more comprehensive and broader, like our plains,--our intellect generally on a grander scale, like our thunder and lightning, our rivers and mountains and forests,--and our hearts shall even correspond in breadth and depth and grandeur to our inland seas."
In this passage, Thoreau describes a human spirit that becomes a reflection of the natural world around it-- that is elevated by the characteristics of its environment.  Is this true? Do sweeping and majestic natural landscapes inspire our hearts to greatness?  My mind conjures thoughts of the gray dreariness of being surrounded by tall buildings and pavement in the cities versus the awe-inspiring sight of lush green forests and snow-capped mountain peaks soaring into a clear blue sky.  In my mind, there is no doubt which is more inspiring!

I would highly recommend reading "Walking," if you have a chance.  It is rambling, thought-provoking, beautiful, irreverent, and in some places will make you laugh out loud.  Thoreau is never shy about sharing his honest opinions, and his disdain for civilized society and those who inhabit it is highly amusing.  I did laugh out loud at this passage:
 "...I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too... as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon--I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago." 
I can only shake my head in amusement and wonder what he would think of those of us in present times who work eight-hour days at a desk job?  I certainly agree with Thoreau that we are more suited to wandering about in nature instead of sitting idly at a desk-- both for our physical well-being and for the inspiration of our spirits. So... go take a walk today!  Happy Nature Nerd Wednesday.

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