Walking through the Olde Rope trail in Woodstock, Georgia, I expect to hear silence, but the sounds of nature are resounding—the crunching of fallen leaves beneath my feet, the snapping of twigs, the flow of the creek to my left, the birds calling above, the branches swaying in the wind, the animals running through the woods. I am so easily frightened at the sight of an unfamiliar animal too closely running by my side or crossing my path. As I walk through the split in the trees, I long for a perfectly flat rock to rest, but I find something much better. Close to the creek, I spot a 5’x5’ patch of the greenest grass that I’ve seen. As I reach down to check for dampness, I am beyond pleased with the soft, fresh and slightly dewy patch that I’ve found—this is the perfect spot. I sit down in my perfect patch and observe the beauty before me: as far as I can see, trees that vary from red, to yellow and green, the creek flowing at my feet, and the critters all around me. All I can do is examine and sit in awe of the creation around me. A butterfly chooses the greatest seat in the forest, in my opinion at least. This butterfly, a monarch, is clothed in orange, black and white, with the most beautiful design on its wings. She has chosen to land on my knee, to make herself comfortable in my personal space—she has entered my perfect patch of grass. As I sit in amazement of her beauty, I wonder how she felt comfortable enough to approach me. I question why she has no fear. The more I think, I realize that I have encroached on her home. Have I found the patch of grass that she comes to watch the creek? What made her bold enough to tell me that I’ve entered her safe place, while the other critters flee when they see me?
This memory I hold onto as I strive to make changes in the way that I am personally making changes to our world. My mind flashes back to this time on the trail while driving through Frisco, Texas: I see new buildings and construction that were not there two years ago. Where there was once a beautiful grassland, now sits these coarse, solid, ugly, buildings. I feel disgusted thinking about how many perfect patches of grass I could have found there two years ago. I flash back to my time with the butterfly: how she helped me to see that I entered her home without asking, that I was inconsiderate of the life that already existed in my perfect patch of grass, next to my calmly flowing creek, under the shade of my unforgettable trees. I wonder now, instead of how the butterfly was so bold, but how the people that have torn into what was once a beautiful home to animals and plant-life. Did they think twice about the habitats they were destroying before they entered? Did they wonder how this would affect the lives already in existence. What was their motivation? What has our motivation been for any industrialization?
I get to thinking about us humans, and I begin to feel sad. We have become a society of instant gratification, of selfish desires, of ever-changing technologies, of boredom in silence, of less appreciation for the beauty that was created for us to enjoy. I wonder how we got here? How often do we sit still or even unplug from social media and the rest of the internet? When did this world become so fast-paced? The butterflies aren’t worried about the newest iPhone or the newest infrastructure. The butterflies live in peace and harmony with one another. Are we unaware of the lives that already exist, or are we just so blinded by our own desires that we don’t consider these types of things. Are we able to live in peace and harmony with our environment and even the other people in our world?
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