A couple weekends ago, I went on a six hour cleanup float trip down the Kaw River. I picked up trash ranging from styrofoam cups to pieces of clothing as I journeyed 10 miles down the river without my phone or an actual bathroom. Instead of going to the lake for a weekend and tanning or taking pictures, I spent six hours in an orange kayak, surrounded on all sides by muddy, smelly river water.
Although I may sound like one of the excessively eco-friendly characters on Portlandia, I realized first-hand that the satisfaction of nature comes from the journey. During those 10 miles, I focused simply on paddling the boat and cleaning up trash, truly able to give myself a mental break and block out all the homework I had due the next day.
Spending six hours on a boat in a stinky river in Kansas City, Kan. may not sound appealing to everyone, but it shows that nature isn’t perfect. Our Instagram expectations and lack of time force people to rush to certain “beautiful” areas to capture the moment (emphasis on moment) and then leave.
I find this problem while walking through Loose Park. Groups of people drive and meet at the park to sit on a blanket and look at phones. They leave after an hour and take a perfect picture for Instagram instead of relaxing and marveling in the beauty of the park.
We are missing out on the flaws of nature that make it unique to man-made products. Nature is something that we only have one of, while man-made products are replaceable.
Not only are humans failing to appreciate nature in its full glory, they are destroying the earth as they do so. Nature allows us to go back in time and walk in the shoes of the first humans. This possibility is disappearing as we forget more and more about nature, and slowly destroy it. The less attention we pay to the earth, the more it deteriorates.
Loose Park on an average weekend is surrounded by cars. Why is it necessary to drive to a park? A park is meant for relaxation through the experience of nature, yet people clog it with pollution and the sound of cars whizzing by.
Next time you are bored on a Saturday, I encourage you to get out and take a hike, go for a swim or ride a bike. And while you do so, take a minute to look at what is around you. Not only the pollution, but the beauty of it as well. If we all make the little effort, we can see the bigger benefit of a cleaner world for our children.