Week 2: Reflection – Sometimes You Have to Stop and Look

Sunday, September 8, 2013; 11:00PM

It’s awfully quiet here. Well, not quiet, but peaceful. The sounds of the insects prevent me from saying otherwise. But as I sit here, alone, surrounded by what many would call nature, I cannot help but notice the things that aren’t: the stone steps, the lights, the gazebo. Even more than that: the cars that drive by on the road on either side of me, the airplane overhead, even the lake right in front of me…

Yet what is running through my mind is that what I am starring at – the reflection of the Commons in the water – is often described as one of the most beautiful sites on campus. But it is not natural beauty. None of it is really. Man has touched everything. Even the most “natural” thing on campus – the lake. And when I try to think of other natural beauties that I’ve seen, I am beginning to question even their naturalness.

This summer, I hiked up Old Rag. But now that I think about it, that 9 mile trail was made way back when with the rise of the National Park Program. And while the mountain itself still existed beforehand, the trailblazers remind you that man has since been here and has shaped it for future generations.

Even further still (while I have never been there), we have Yosemite. Currently the park is being ravaged and threatened by forest fires. Yet it is also being threatened in another way – by humans. I recently read an article discussing that Yosemite was planning to cut back on human activity because of the heavy impact that human presence due to tourism has had on the park. The plan would be to encourage the restoration of over 200 acres of meadows, reorganizing transportation, and reducing traffic flow. (For more info, read http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/29/us/plan-for-yosemite-calls-for-scaling-back-human-activity.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130729.)

This brings me to my next point. Where has man not been? He has practically explored every inch of this Earth. The ocean is the only thing I can think of that has yet to be explored. The question now progress to, should we? How much human activity is too much? Are we destroying or creating beauty with our presence in certain natural settings?   Does our presence mean that natural beauty cannot exist? Or can the two co-exist? Where then can we look for this beauty?

Over the summer, I developed a new hobby called urb-exing. It is where one goes into an area and explores the remains of urbanization. This can take the form of factories, public pools, train stations, etc. – as long as they’re abandoned. One of the reasons, aside from the adrenaline rush that I get, that I had such a strong affinity for it, was that it was a wonderful exhibition of the power and sheer determination of Mother Nature. It was beyond amazing to see what exactly nature could reclaim. Even the smallest of shrubs peeking out from the concrete floor signified a victory, a promise, a reminder of sorts that Mother Nature is always here and will always be here in one way or another.

Sometimes you just have to stop and look.

So now, I sit here and really try to look and listen. I begin to notice the little things.

The pinecones that scatter the area, a promise of life to come, protected in a case for safekeeping.

The fish that jumped in the distance, landing with a splash, presumably eating it’s midnight munchies.

 The raindrops that are falling from the sky, once a part of some other far off body of water; now a part of our own little Westhampton Lake watershed.

Sometimes you just have to stop and look.


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2 Responses to Week 2: Reflection – Sometimes You Have to Stop and Look

  1. erinb says:

    I have so much fun whenever I am by the lake because I have come to appreciate the little things that I am certain so many others on campus don’t even know about. Cool blog post!

  2. TRL says:

    The Yosemite proposal is a very interesting and relevant one. See also the follow-up article in the Times: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/08/01/is-yosemite-national-park-for-all-or-some

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