With everyone discussing about World Environment Day, I wonder where I would be today if not for that stint in God’s Own Country. It happened some time back when the family was excitedly making plans for a trip to a hill station just to get away from the daily hustle and bustle of city life. And what better time than summer? Actually, what sparked off this particular flash back in memory was a TV programme that I had been watching on nature conservation. The interviewee was saying that it was not nature that required to be trimmed to suit OUR needs. What was needed was a change in OUR attitudes towards nature!
So, as I had mentioned earlier, here I was with my family members finalizing plans to go to a place surrounded by greenery when, my husband aptly chose that precise moment to inform us about his transfer to a town set amidst nature! At first I thought that he was joking but eventually discovered that he wasn’t.
“No! No! It’s for real” he said to me. “You will be delighted with the place. You always keep complaining of having to live your life amidst lifeless bricks and cement. Now, you can spend all your time interacting with nature.”
Now, it wasn’t that we weren’t expecting this shift of residential location. What we were not prepared for was this sudden transfer of all our activities, bag, baggage and all to a place we had only heard of. Somehow, I did not feel elated by this news that day. Going out for an excursion to a place filled with plants, streams, trees and flowers is one thing. Living there permanently is another ball game altogether. Slowly, the change had begun. Something I was dreading all along. Life had become such a convenient existence. Now, change looked straight into my face. I, a city bred woman was to adapt to a more rural environment. How was I to adjust to such an atmosphere when all that nature for me was an annual excursion?
How I moaned and grumbled! How I fretted and fumed as I packed for an existence bereft of all the amenities I was so used to in a city life. But there was nothing I could do then. Nature had decided to be my teacher temporarily, much against my will. It appeared as though she had uprooted me from my roots transporting me from city to town where I was to see more of greenery and less of brick and cement as my husband had pointed out. I worried immensely about the facilities I would have to do without.
Today, years after that stint amidst nature I can clearly recollect one important thing. The helplessness I felt at losing all that I had ‘acquired’ then only helped me later to possess the wealth of inner peace and contentment instead. City life has always given me what I wanted but it only sought to increase my restlessness stemming from my desire to move up the ladder of material prosperity and security. Every time I satiated one wish of mine, another would crop up from behind. It finally became sowing seeds of unwarranted desires again and again sometimes leading to disappointment when I did not get what I desired. In modern day’s fast paced life I seemed to have forgotten what actual living was about. I had forgotten that my origin was basically from the depths of nature. How often we overlook the fact that life is not just human existence and its conveniences, that nature is a vital element that sustains us. It is only because of nature that we exist and breathe freely. Just imagine a world without nature, without the fresh breeze that greets us every morning when we open the windows, without the shade that we happily accept when the hot tar roads continuously stretch before us when we rush for work. I, like several others was willing to grab hold of the amenities that nature provided me but refused to acknowledge and respect it.
It was spring in the air when we moved to the town with trees, flowers and birds opening their arms wide to welcome a season known for its colour and joy. All creatures, big and small are known to wait anxiously for summer to bloom to its fullest. Do we people even realize the importance of summer and spring? I remember when I was in the city earlier, all that I could think of as soon as summer arrived was, “how hot and sweaty it is out here!” And, I’d rather be seated within closed doors ‘enjoying’ the cool air-conditioned breeze. There, in the town I surprisingly awoke every morning to greet the first rays of the sun. The energy that I received from the early morning rays kept me going the whole day with enthusiasm. In the city, I had no time for such ‘frivolities.’ I would rather catch a few extra winks of sleep to refrain from dozing off at work after a late night. Amidst nature’s rich expanse, life runs at its own pace. It just cannot be rushed I was soon to realize. Thanks to that temporary stay amidst nature, today, my mind and body has learnt to take life as it comes. I no longer crave for the hurried frenzy of a fast life.
Flowers, which had escaped my sight earlier, surprised me. Many a time I would see a flower I thought was always in bloom, silently close their buds at night and stretch their petals only when the sun’s rays penetrated through them. Honestly, I never knew that flowers needed to sleep like we humans did! I had always considered quite messy the very act of digging and pulling out weeds to make way for a new plant. But, I found myself doing exactly the opposite of what I had felt earlier. As a result, I can appreciate more now the work of the farmer and the gardener as they sweat it out to plant a seed or trim overgrown grass. I used to consider it stylish to keep artificial plants in my home in the city earlier (who had the time to take care of ‘real’ plants anyway?). But, thanks to my stay amidst the seat of nature’s vast expanse I now tend to real plants and interact with them. I had thought that only the cartoon character Heidi could hear the whispering of the trees. Now, I hear the ‘swish-swash’ too! I can see the orange ball of fire burn brilliantly through the leaves of the trees in my garden lighting up the whole place with a yellowish-orange tint.
Birds of all kinds with their ‘cheep-cheep’ and ‘coos’ churned within me so much happiness, something I had not experienced in the city. Every time, I heard a bird coo I would hurry to see the bird. All that I had seen of birds until then was in the Discovery and National Geographic channels on television. Now, I was watching and observing them for real and close quarters at that. It is not that city life is completely bereft of such natural delights. It is just that we may not get the opportunity to bask in the glory of beautiful nature caught as we are in the hurried process of ‘living’. Even if we did get the opportunity we would rather be cooped up in our individual cells of so-called security and, watch the glorious sunset on our television sets!
Today, the new generation wants more and more of modern technology. Don’t you think they are getting farther away from their very roots as they sit in their chairs and bask in their worlds of virtual reality? Do I want my children to enjoy an artificial world of nature when they can very well touch, see, smell and feel a real nature? How close am I to nature, this, my past intoxicated life of toxic exhaustion and intolerable mundane living has revealed to me. I now realize that all I believe in life will bring me no real joy and satisfaction until I learn to live in harmony with nature and appreciate nature. Life in a small town taught me to value nature. It also taught me to live at peace with myself, something I never achieved in my life in the city. I now understand the seasons and their need to exist so. All these things have not only made me come close to nature; they have also made me a better person from within. I also understand the importance of being me. Nature now grows in my very own backyard providing fragrance and freshness to my life and I always bear in mind that like in any friendship it needs to be tended carefully to. No wonder every season, be it winter or summer I am loaded with fruits of nature’s goodwill and tranquility.
Happy Environment Day today and Every other Day!