Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nature Girl....Or Not....?

It’s made me wonder who I am, is what spring did.

As we go through life, we acquire ways of identifying ourselves, ways to relate our individual being to the world outside. If we have an affinity for music, we may labels ourselves musicians. If we're drawn to drawing, we might say we're graphic artists. If we are, inexplicably, excited by algebraic equations we could proclaim ourselves rocket scientists or mechanical engineers or at the very least math brainiacs. We have boundless external identifiers to choose from and it is the combination of natural inclination and environmental influence that leads us to conclusions about who we are and guide us into who we become.

Throughout my life, I have always thought of myself a ‘nature girl.’ If I made a list of my top ten personal identifiers and named them in order of dominance, ‘nature girl’ would be in the top three—right after ‘writer’ and before ‘dancer.’ An inherent curiosity combined with a childhood that included a horse ranch, a three hundred acre preparatory school, a thousand acre Ashram, and countless hours allowed to roam cultivated the nature girl within me. My favorite pastime was wandering through the woods or over fields with the birds and butterflies for company. I grew to love all of nature; rain, snow, sunshine, mountain tops, valleys, rivers, lakes, and streams. My love of the natural world also influenced my development as a person, I’m conscious of the environment and even my consumerism became naturally oriented, all my hair and cleaning products are biodegradable, my perfume is from natural essential oils, and even my diet is free from chemical influences.

This thing—nature—overwhelming and beautiful, inspiring and terrible, fascinating and dominating, became a part of who I believed myself to be.

Until recently.

Suddenly, without alteration of my inner self, without a mutation of my natural inclinations or a decline in my usual tastes, I cannot go outside! I have allergies, bad ones, thus the natural world I have long loved is now lost to me. If I should hope to refrain from being dreadfully ill, if I should hope to be able to continue to breathe—no longer can I roam the wilds.

It’s been a shock and has taken adjustment. You may imagine I would feel sad thinking on this—but as it happens I don’t anymore. Over the long course of our lives, we are constantly in flux, who we think of as ourselves today will be just a shadow come tomorrow. Change is the only certainty in this world but even through the course of change the essence of things remain. I am no longer able to go out into the wild to roam, but the fine seeds of that world were planted in my psyche and laid roots that extend beyond the physical. From the safety of my allergy-proof home, I remain a part of that brash wind, those groaning oaks, that amorous frog, and those earnest saplings, that optimistic grass, and the furious sunshine. I may no longer be able to justify the label ‘nature girl’ through my lifestyle but the way I see it is this:

You can take the girl out of the nature, but you can’t take the nature out of the girl.

And so, Nature Girl, I will remain—albeit an unusual one.