I walked amongst the transforming foliage on a tree root covered path surrounding the lake. As the path crept up to the muddy bank, I sat down and decided to reflect. My muddy bank seemed as good of a spot as any, I supposed. I wasn’t quite sure what to reflect about, so I just sat there in the mud for a few minutes and stared out at the lake.
I decided to do a little meditation where I wrote down what all of my senses were perceiving. I immediately noticed the construction noises in the distance, as well as the sounds of cars vrooming down the nearby road. There was an empty chips ahoy bag near me. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling the majestic glory experienced through a sublime piece of wilderness. The lake wasn’t formed from the tears of gods, the vegetation around me wasn’t enchanted by the perfect hue of emerald green, and the animals fled as I approached instead of singing to me and keeping me company.
I continued to sit despite my underwhelming feelings about my reflection spot. I noticed the sounds of birds in the distance, the crashing of acorns falling into piles of amber leaves, the constant humming of crickets incredibly far away. While the damp and soggy bank didn’t feel amazing under the seat of my pants, I took time to appreciate the feel of the gentle breeze as it rippled the surface of the water, distorting the reflection of the gazebo island painted on its surface. I laid down to recognize which leaves had begun changing into warm browns, reds, and oranges for the fall. The longer I sat in the mud, the more peaceful I began to feel. I began to realize my original perceptions of my reflection spot were wrong; I had failed to notice how perfect of a spot I had stumbled upon. But maybe it wasn’t just my spot. Maybe all of the spots around the lake have a hidden beauty waiting to be found.
I’ve come to realize that in life, it’s so important to find beauty wherever you can. It helps us as humans to understand and enjoy all of the magnificent things around us, no matter how ordinary they may be. Cronan asks for us to find wilderness in our own backyards, to search for exquisite in the overlooked, to find the beauty in the muddy bank of the lake. To quote the ending of my favorite show, The Office: “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?”
Update: The Return to the Reflection Spot
Following Andrew’s unique idea of reflecting at night, I set out to return to my reflection spot after the sun had gone down with Andrew, Parr, and Jack in tow. Turns out, Andrew’s reflection spot was just feet away from mine! Sitting down on my muddy bank, I heard the piercing squawks of geese more so than in my previous trip, and the white noise provided by the insects had grown. I found that the decrease in vision was compensated by an increase in sounds. As I took in the scene, Andrew, Parr, Jack and I discussed the different viewpoints we’d experienced. Andrew pointed out some things I had overlooked in my previous trip, such as the beautiful slanting tree on the bank of the lake, whose branches caressed the top of the water and reflected back in a beautiful silhouette. Sitting in my reflection spot at night brought me an even greater sense of peace than I had experienced before; the dark shading revealed only the outlines of the foliage surrounding me and the lights along the bridge reflected against the still water. Andrew, Parr, and Jack’s company provided me with an opportunity to reflect on how all individuals view nature in a slightly different way. While we all appreciated the serene and peaceful scene surrounding us, we all noticed and focused on different things.