Today while sitting with Mr. Bur, I spent some time just listening to the sounds on Morgan Field, and thinking about how they made me feel. For the first half of my time with Mr. Bur today, I listened to the sounds of the modern world. For the second half of my time with Mr. Bur, I focused on the natural sounds.
For the first half of my time with Mr. Bur today, I tried to pick out the sounds I heard that came from the modern world. The first thing I heard were cars. Bur is located near Drayer Hall, and from my spot underneath him, I can see both College Street and High Street. High Street is the main street in Carlisle, and as a result, there is a constant stream of traffic traveling up and down this road. The traffic isn’t particularly loud, but it becomes this constant background noise on Morgan Field. I also heard a lawnmower coming from somewhat far away that added a constant buzzing to the noise-scape. I also heard either a fire engine or ambulance’s sirens, but I never saw which it was. All of the manmade sounds of modernity that I heard while sitting with Mr. Bur were the sounds of everyday life, but when I focused in on them and thought about what they meant, I realized how stressful these sounds are. These sounds from the modern-technological world are around us everyday, but we never really stop and realize how removed from nature these sounds truly are.
For the second half of my time, I switched to listening to the sounds of nature around me. It wasn’t very windy, but I could still hear the rustling of the leaves of Mr. Bur and the trees around him. When I focused on this sound alone, I realized that it had a noticeable calming effect on me. Focusing on the sound of the rustling leaves forced me to stop thinking and worrying, which I d
on’t do enough. I have an extraordinarily busy schedule, so taking the time to sit and listen to nature is not something I get to do very often, so the calming effect was very noticeable. I found myself focusing my breathing and relaxing my muscles—an exercise I learned in one of my psychology classes that I hadn’t done in awhile. I could also hear birds today, which I really enjoyed. Most of the time when I hear birds, I usually ignore it and easily tune it out. Today I made a conscious effort to really listen. Like the sound of the rustling trees, listening to the birds really calmed me down. I spent half of my time with Mr. Bur today focusing in on the natural sounds around me, and it did relax me, but it also made me feel sad. I felt sad because I realized how much I ignore these sounds. I am often so busy and so preoccupied with my ‘to-do’ lists and homework that I have no extra room in my head for rustling leaves and birdsongs. This is a sad way to live life, but it is the way of life for so many people in this modern world.
Aldo Leopold lived his life somewhat detached from the modern world, and instead surrounded himself with the natural world. Not everyone has to live their life like Aldo Leopold, but I think that it is very important for people to take time out of their busy day, or even week, to return to nature. If people were to devote even just a little bit of their time to getting back in touch with the natural world, I believe they would first feel the same sadness I felt today, but then over time, I think it would be very beneficial. Modernity has brought with it a great deal of anxiety and stress, and based on my experience today, I think that spending time reconnecting with nature could be a very effective way of reducing this stress.
Leopold, Aldo. 1949. “A Sands County Almanac.” Oxford University Press.