Observing a Human Built Environment

As an Environmental Studies major, I have come to understand the importance of appreciating nature through observation. It’s the little things about nature that make one think about how beautiful and majestic it can be. Before Dickinson College, I never took nature as an important aspect of my life; I simply enjoyed it for what it had to offer in terms of recreational activities, but not observing its movements. Now, I sit here on this bench, observing Sycamo. I must thank my previous class, Buddhism and the Environment, for developing my observational skills, meditation, and pushing myself to be closer with nature.

Yet, after taking that class, I find myself being able to pay the most attention in a quiet room listening to studying music on YouTube. Sometimes I listen to white noise, as it allows to me to focus more on the task at hand and not be distracted by other forms of music that have bass, snares, vocals, and a catchy melody.

Sitting under my tree, I realize how difficult it is for me to focus with so much noise and movement around me. Students walk down the academic quads, laughing and yelling. Cars roaring by. Birds chirping as they sit on the massive trunks of Sycamo. A student speeds by on a long board, similar to a cheetah sprinting to go home. Multiple squirrels are scattered on the grass are looking for food, while I am sitting here, thinking about where I should go buy my next meal. How easy we have it as a humans with feeding ourselves in a developing country. We are privileged to have many things ready for us. In nature, there is no such thing as prepared meals for its inhabitants. You must work for the spoils of nature. These squirrels must work for their food. Another car accelerates by, this time with an even louder and menacing tone.

All the noise pollution derives from a human built environment. Leopold operated in a similar manner with observing nature in detail and writing down his observations. Yet, he wrote in a notebook, whereas I am typing my observations in a laptop. He experienced true nature with minimal human interaction; meanwhile I am in a human built environment that has far more noises than Leopold’s observations.

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