“I found nature!” my daughter exclaimed. She was so pleased with herself, her eyes so bright with excitement. She was ecstatic that she found nature. “Good for you,” I thought. Wait. We’re in nature. We never lost it. And you think you just discovered it? Never mind that she screamed this three hours into our trip to the New York Botanical Garden. We specifically went to spend the day in nature. We had been immersed in walking through and learning about and talking about trees and shrubs and flowers and seeds and wetlands and climate and decomposition and well, nature. For 180 minutes.
When she made her proclamation, I snorted and thought, “Well, there she goes again. Not paying attention and doing her own thing…of course she would just now realize we’re in nature.”
But wait. She had found nature. In that moment, she found something that spoke to her. She’s no dummy. She knew damned well where we were, what we were looking at, what we were doing. The girl’s a little flaky, but she’s not blind. So here’s the thing: walking in, I had just told the ticket counter folks that this was my first trip to the Garden–that I had taken the New York City area for granted when I lived there when I was younger. I was telling the gentleman that I had not visited iconic landmarks until after I had moved away, and even then, it was returning to the area to take friends who were visiting. I said I wasn’t going to do that anymore, that I make it a point to appreciate and take advantage of everything life has to offer. So in visiting family for the holidays, I decided to take the kids to the Bronx to see the famed gardens and holiday train display.
My daughter, in “finding nature,” was suddenly struck by the beauty and marvel of something in the garden, or in that moment. She was not going to take being surrounded by nature and beauty for granted. She found a gem in her midst.
We get used to circumstances–being in a loving relationship, living in a moderate climate, getting a regular paycheck, living in a bustling metropolis. We forget how special a lover or friend or sibling is. We forget how comfortable mild temperatures can be. We forget the luxury of knowing we can pay bills on time because we’ll get paid every two weeks. We forget how special easy access to museums and parks and operas and ethnic foods is. When it’s always around us, we get used to it. We fail to appreciate just how special life is. Sometimes we miss the details, sometimes we overlook the grandeur. The gems lose their sparkle if we let them.
It’s so important to remember to stop and find the marvel, stop and remember the uniqueness, stop and be grateful for the opportunity or beauty. We must always be mindful to seek out and be grateful for beauty and all that is good in the world. We must always find nature, even when we’re in nature. Especially when we’re in nature.
What takes your breath away? What stops you in your tracks and makes you squeal with delight? What is your nature that you will discover today? Every day?