A life-time journey: the road not to be missed
Xiao-Shuang Liang, Division 3, College freshman #ws17e-s3d3

We often live in a busy world in which we neglect the simple beauty of life. In a search for happiness and value of our existence, we lose our way while pursuing status, fame, and anything materialistic. In order to get ourselves up on the social ladder, we make ourselves so busy that we forget to take a look at the beautiful scenery that nature offers. Nature plays a role of guidance counselor in my life because it inspires me to initiate changes. The appreciation of nature makes me want to live a more adventurous life, in which I could seek for new experiences for something I would never imagine myself doing. I see the world differently when I choose to take the path that includes the most bushes and trees. I live my life differently when I notice the smallest change in the crack of a deformed road.

Nature makes me realize there is more to our community when I make the small change in my lifestyle. In my first year of college, I would only take one route to my classes because I was not familiar with my surroundings. For me, the unknown was too risky and too perilous to discover. However, I made a significant decision one day when I had just enough time to take a different way to campus. To my surprise, I had never seen such beautiful landscape since I moved here. The frantic yellow sunlight peeked through the shades of branches and glowed on crooked vines and tilting red flowers. The dancing leaves fluttering around the trees were like emeralds proudly displaying themselves in multiple grand showcases. The damp, moist ground had been penetrated by morning rain smelled like a mixture of blue berries and pomegranates. I dare not to tread upon the crispy grasses that were occupied by ladybugs and dragonflies. I did not want to disturb them, especially not the diligent ants that crawled in groups and ready to build up their new castle.

As I descended down the hill, I gazed at the blue, serene sky for a few seconds. The milky clouds floated on the open sky was just as bold as Viking ships that traveled freely in the Baltic Sea. Several white-winged doves passed by me with little hesitation, and soon after, they were followed by a few golden-winged warblers. I suddenly came across a small creek that was tainted with falling leaves and water striders. Upon seeing this, I picked up a few pebbles and saved them in my backpack. This brought me to several life-changing questions. How much more pretty views would I be missing out if I chose to lead the same, monotonous path? How many views have I already missed while living a busy life? Why was I too afraid to explore a new place? Did I live a life of “quiet desperation” like what Thoreau may have pointed out in Walden? I have so many unanswered questions rushing right into my head.

That same day I made another daunting decision: I visited an almost abandoned building. On my way out, I was astounded that a green plant had grown out of the concrete on a deformed, cracked road. I had always expected plants to be fragile and weak, but how could something so brittle break through the hard concrete? How is it possible for it to stay alive like this with minimal sunlight and water source? Normally, I would walk away with no other opinions, but the most magical scene occurred in the next second. Two jet black butterflies surrounded the green plant, and they pampered it by hovering around it for about a minute. They appreciated its strength. They knew it was not easy to survive in some of the most adverse conditions, and only the strong and brave will last through another winter. This made me think again. We, humans, are similar to the green plant in many ways. We all face struggles in the world, and we have our individual issues to face. Is my problem set due this Thursday again? Could I pay my rent at the end of this month? There are problems that we need to deal with as adults, and when we get too overwhelmed by our own problems, we almost forget to appreciate the strength of nature and of ourselves.

In today’s world, most people fail to recognize the strength of nature and the strength within themselves. Too many of us sought validations from money and possessions, but doing so only leaves us an empty feeling that would not be fulfilled other than appreciating what’s around us and what’s within us. Nature as my counselor makes me intrepid when I choose to make a change in my daily routine. I discovered the prettiest landscape when I challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone. I learned about the fortitude of nature and mankind when taking a meticulous look at my surroundings. In the future, no matter how busy the world gets, I will keep looking to uncover more mystery of nature and learn more about myself.
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