‘Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts’Rachel Carson
Why we need to learn from Nature
I wonder if you are the sort of person who finds it difficult to do something simply for the pure pleasure of the pursuit? The process itself is the focus and not the end product. I often waver between the two, let me explain. I believe that life is a learning journey, a process that leads from one moment of discovery to the next. The experience of learning, growing, failing, struggling and overcoming are the essential elements of life. Yet, my impatience, coupled with the type of society we live in, emphasises heavily an ‘end product’.
We fill our magazines and media with perfect ends – the lifestyle, the completed renovation, the great achievement. We draw upon these to define our own value. Life is presented in linear form – there is a start and there is a finish, while success is a measured and achievable outcome. We look to others for affirmation of success. Yet as life becomes increasingly uncertain and unpredictable, is there an alternative to spending much of life focusing on a tangible end.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is something very beautiful about watching someone succeed or reach a defined end on a world-stage. I defy anyone not to have a lump in the throat during an Olympic medal presentation ceremony. Moments of triumph are jewels to be shared and celebrated. Yet I wonder if the true celebration is in the journey. It is the story of triumph after much trial and tribulation that brings a far deeper pleasure.
Looking at the beauty around us in nature, I believe we have a valuable teacher. Glorious moments of wild celebration happening around us all the time, with no news or social media coverage. These nature moments are what they are. Perhaps there are some lessons that we can learn and apply to our own lives?
The 5 things we can learn from Nature?
Stillness: Nature teaches us stillness. The trees and plants grow as the seasons’ change. They respond to light, warmth and rain with calm unhurried ease. They know when to expend energy and when to stop.
Connection: Nature teaches the value of connection. Oak trees provide food and shelter for a myriad of animals and plants. All rely on the oak and it willingly provides. Wildflowers feed bees; bees pollinate plants. Birds eat fruit and then kindly spread seeds. All over the natural world, a finely balanced connection demonstrated mutual honour, even if that involved the death of one to provide life to another. Only we first-world humans march about our planet with the limited belief we are the exception.
Hope: Nature teaches us to hope: the seasons’ cycle; the rains do eventually come; the flowers blossom; the tide returns and nature can regenerate. There is nothing more powerful than the emergence of a snowdrop after a long dark winter or a swollen river feeding life into a dry dusty plain.
Beauty: Nature teaches us beauty. Stand and watch a sunrise or sunset and you will experience a thing of unique beauty. Admire the delicate complexity of a flower and smell its intoxicating aroma. Gush at the sighting of dolphins and laugh at the comical attempts of puffins to land in the sea. There are far too numerous things to mention of the beauty of the nature that is immediately around us. We simply have to open our eyes, stop pursuing things, and see.
Simplicity: Nature teaches us simplicity. A flower needs no more than soil, light and water and the right environment to grow into something truly beautiful.
How to apply the lessons nature teaches
Nature offers us an opportunity to value life in greater harmony with an underlying ebb and flow. It offers us freedom from the constant rapacious drum that values only a measurable goal. Perhaps if we have a focus on the process of living a life well, then we have a greater opportunity to recognise and celebrate the quieter moments happening around us. We can hold our sense of person and value, despite the uncertainties swirling around us, because we define our success from the lessons nature has taught us. If wider recognition comes, so be it. If not, we have lived well.