Nature and Art

I’m perched on an old stump at the top of a rocky cliff. After following up on some job hunt related leads I made my way here to Point Pleasant Park. It’s breezy now, but clouds have just recently filled the sky to dull what was earlier a too warm afternoon. I’m being bitten by mosquitos for the first time in many months, and it’s almost welcome.
When I entered the park I decided to follow one of the paths which is covered in mulch, rather than the gravel paths which seem more frequented by the casual walker. When I walk, I often glance around the ground in hope that I’ll find a discarded item of man or nature. Today I came across a crow’s feather at the foot of an easy path up this cliff. I followed it, entertaining the notion that the feather was some marker left for me. It’s often rewarding to slip into a belief there’s some guiding messenger out there. I’m content with my vantage point, at least.
This park has become a haven of sorts for me in this past month. With frustration mounting and a sense of stagnation about the apartment, I’ve needed a natural area to find strength and calm in. Rocky coasts and forests are the places that feel the most like home to me, and always have been. This park, which has both coast and forest, is the place most like a home to me in all the city.
Below me on the path I’ve seen several people walking past, though few notice me in turn. I wonder if there are people off the path, or even on it that I’ve missed. I make an effort to be aware of the world around me, but I feel there is still a hole in my vision, that I’m missing out on important experiences or ways I could help others in simple ways. Most of us become disinterested with the world around, for whatever reasons, but even when we strive to be aware there’s too much stimulus to take in more than a fraction of what is to be felt and learned.
To me, that’s where the value of art and study have some of the greatest benefit. By filling in some of the gaps in our experience and understanding with art and shared knowledge we enable ourselves to increase our awareness. At least in my own life, important change has often happened because I experienced art which allowed me to have a second hand experience or insight.
Few people in urban settings have access to undisturbed nature. Most of us are lucky to have trees on our streets, perhaps a yard with vegetation, and a nearby park with cultivated plants. These plants are the pieces of nature man has coaxed and forced into art. They form reminders of the greater works of nature found in places man has not intruded upon. We should all be thankful for any purity of nature we have access to. That there is a place as intact as this park (even though it was damaged by a great hurricane) only an hour’s walk from my dwelling is so rewarding and fortunate.
I leave now to continue through the park, to enjoy some solitude before these darkening clouds give off their rain. I’ll remember this seat off the path and keep it as a regular stopping point. It has provided me with a spot to meditate, reflect and understand.

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