The lush countryside. The flowering plants. The chirping birds. The changing seasons. The earth. The sun. The moon. The universe. The cosmos. All creations animate and inanimate.
All that beauty and all that wonder and yet, whenever I ponder upon nature, it takes me on a trip down the memory lane. To my elementary school days, where I began to read and write.
Or where I still struggled to, according to my mother.
I was sold on the notion that life is a cruel reality and what it represents is a vicious cycle.
An interminable gyration where the angry-looking bird eats the centipede before the unfortunate thing itself becomes lunch for another animal up the food chain.
I was taught that life is a game of the survival of the fittest, and nature is the stadium where it all happens.
* * *
Now, I’m not denying that nature is crawling with animal instincts, it surely is.
And yet, I have grown fond of cogitating on nature for inspiration.
For a refreshed view on things simple and complex.
For meaning, for hope, and most importantly, for lessons.
For anything that I can apply in my life and change it for the better.
Whatever I could get, I wanted.
* * *
Ask and You Shall Receive
And naturally, nature did not disappoint. The more I thought about it, the more enthralling it became.
But for a moment, utter disbelief.
Most of my life, I realized, has been spent in heedlessness. Clueless about the sheer beauty of things.
Seek and You Shall Find
- The rising and setting of celestial bodies.
- The sight of a lone cacti plant in a barren land.
- The brave stand an elephant makes to keep its calves protected from harm.
- The spectacular (and sometimes downright bizarre) courtship rituals of a red-capped manakin or a black-footed albatross.
- The transformation of an ugly caterpillar into a majestic butterfly.
- The courage displayed by a baby bird leaving the safety of its nest for the first time to take its maiden flight.
All this happening all around me, and I suddenly felt foreign in a familiar world.
Except I (despite what my friends say) wasn’t foreign — only ignorant.
* * *
Here are some of the things I learned about different themes in life.
On standing tall
The instinctive urge to survive and to prevail is one of the most outstanding traits displayed by nature.
No matter how harsh the conditions or how bleak the situation, it always finds a way to survive and to press on.
Take, for instance, the cacti plant.
Instead of just giving up and dying, the cacti plant has adapted to grow and to survive in the aridest lands with the most unforgiving temperatures.
You can overcome any obstacles in your life.
When push comes to shove, you too could survive if you’d just stopped feeling sorry for yourselves and adapted to the situations as they unfold.
If a caterpillar gave up on its life, it would never get the chance to become something as majestic as a butterfly, let alone be as free as to fly at will in the skies.
Just like the times of despair and uncertainty before an ugly caterpillar evolves into a gorgeous butterfly, you can be certain of one thing: There will be difficulties in your life.
There will come times when you have exhausted all your hope and think that nothing good is ever going to happen in your life.
But if nature is of any reference, even the deadliest of storms run out of rain and rays of sunshine blesses the world in its stead.
This teaches you that no matter how bleak your outlook on life is, it is only temporary and good things can and does happen.
* * *
It is in human nature to be greedy and have our self-interests at the core of everything that we do.
Rarely do we do anything out of the goodness of our hearts and when we do, we do it for show or to further our own interests and agendas.
But when you think of birds, you’ll see something that leaves you in shock and awe.
They travel for miles, often in terrible weather conditions, so that they can expend all their energy just to get some food for their newly hatched little ones.
Maybe this is what some of you had seen when your parents lied to you saying that you should eat and that they were not feeling hungry. Maybe they were hungry, but there was not enough for all of you.
Maybe some of us are like birds. Maybe some of us are born altruistic.
Are you one of the selfless ones?
On working hard
Some of us find it quite easy to give up. Some of us find it hard to keep buggering on. And when the time is right, we blame it on someone else or something else.
We never push ourselves hard enough. We sell ourselves short of what we can do. We never dream as big as we should.
But ants do.
Instead of lamenting about tiny exoskeletons, they dare to dream big. They never let their size stop them in their tracks. It marches on — sometimes lifting objects many times heavier than its own body weight.
Maybe we should look to ants for inspiration.
Maybe we should be as persistent as the ants we so mercilessly crush under our feet.
Maybe ants are our answer to greatness.
* * *
So, maybe we are looking at nature in a wrong light.
Maybe nature is much more profound and wise a teacher than we can imagine.
Maybe we should be willing to give nature the benefit of the doubt before we rush to label it as a cruel reality.
Maybe we are not equipped to understand the complexities that happen in its vast ecosystems.
But one thing is for certain: If you are pure in your intentions, if your search is objective, and if you are willing to give heed to all what nature has to teach you, you will discover a great many lessons that you can utilize as you go about in your daily lives.