Finding spirit in our roots

Jack Rogula, asst. opinions editor

Living in the age of a “Digital Revolution” fosters many advantages for teens; easy access to information, fast communication, and entertainment at our fingertips every second of every day are just a few. However, these benefits come with quite a few drawbacks: disconnection from one-another, and more importantly, disconnection from the natural world.

Nature, whether it be the prairies next to Egg Harbor on Lehigh Avenue or the plethora of forest preserves in the Glenview and Northbrook area, is an element of life that people—especially teens—have begun to value less. 

Connections with nature and the natural world are increasingly important and severely needed. With nature being ravaged by rapid industrialization—especially in remote, untouched wooded areas—environmentally conscious and caring humans will quite literally “save the world”.

On a psychological level, nature lends itself to increased positivity in one’s life. The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that spending time in nature reduces stress and can help with anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Additionally, the AHA states that time outdoors in nature can boost your immune system, as well as strengthen your ability to concentrate. 

I believe that, as a species, most humans have forgotten that we are guests on Earth and in a natural world that gives us so many gifts. Yet, we so willingly abuse and tear the earth apart. 

We’ve chosen to be selfish betrayers to our own world, one that gives and holds so much beautiful life. 

“We often forget that we are nature,”  are the words of Andy Goldsworth, an environmental sculptor. “Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say we have lost our connection to nature, we have lost our connection to ourselves.”

In my life, a respect and admiration for nature has been a part of my being for as long as I can remember. 

Sparkling golden droplets of sun coming through a spotty, natural-leaf roof of a wooded forest is one of my most relished sights. The rhythmic beating of a pileated-Illinois woodpecker—the mohawk-bearing birds that stir me from my sleep on summer mornings and accompany me on walks in the forest preserves near my home—never fails to ease my mind. Canadian loons, with their shrill and echoey calls, forever hold a special place in my heart.

 These elements are what make the scattered forests of Glenview and the behemoth-sized woods of the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario places where I’ve found and forged my connections with nature—places where stress is virtually nonexistent. Its where I truly feel at home as a person, and where you can find peace of mind and pieces of home.  

So the next time you have free time, a break from homework and all the other stressors in life, take a stroll through the woods. Walk along the bank of a stream. 

Keep nature in mind. 

Forge a connection.