Smith: Finding the value of nature

Editor-in-Chief Sage Smith finds the value in nature and the animals in it. Being outside is a time to reflect and decompress from the stress of our lives.

Sage Smith

Spending time with nature is calming. Taking a moment to enjoy the energy of your surroundings is something we often forget to do.

We’re caught up in our phones and have a million thoughts a day. We can’t help it and can’t avoid it. But this is part of why I’ve learned to value my time in nature and with animals so much. It’s a time to reflect and decompress.

Over the summer, I lived in Manning, Iowa, which has a population of about 1,500. I lived in a hotel — yes, you heard that right — and across the road was a field that had bulls. I named my two favorites “Seven” and “Twelve.”

I went on multiple walks around the field and explored the Manning trail system. I let myself make stops and just listen to the wildlife and feel the breeze.

I’ll admit: I’m a vegetarian, so perhaps that is why I appreciate the time I spend with animals and why I liked my time in a small town where there wasn’t much to do except be outside.

I’ll also admit, it’s very difficult for me to be calm. Anyone who knows me, knows this. But I was calm when standing on the other side of the fence and making eye contact with one of those bulls, which may be funny to some because they’re kind of intimidating.

On the drive from Manning to Carroll where my internship was, there was a farm with sheep. Seeing them was my favorite part of the drive. The one time I saw a group of sheep run up the small hill in the field and the way they trotted had me laughing and full of joy for a solid five minutes.

I’ve grown up in Iowa my whole life, so driving on highways with cropland views is the usual, but I still get so excited when I see cows. Sometimes it’s a slight distraction when I’m the driver, which we don’t have to talk about…

I also get especially happy about goats and chickens. Freshman year of college, my friends and I went to an orchard, and they had various animals. There is video footage of me feeding goats and talking to them as if they could understand my language and weren’t solely focused on the food. But you can see how happy I am to interact with them.

So I value the lives of animals. They may not necessarily understand my words but they are intelligent, emotional, social and valuable. Valuable just like their environments. The energy of living creatures and the ecosystems they belong to is peaceful and important.

Going on walks, hiking or just sitting in my backyard is a unique experience each time. They are also times that I actually like to be alone. Usually, if I have the choice, I prefer to have company. When I’m outside, though, I’m okay being by myself. Spending time with yourself is good for you anyway.

Nature is full of noise and feelings. Birds chirping, trees rustling, wind and sun, rain, etc. And there’s hidden beauty in the silence. The small balcony of my apartment is right next to a highway, and I love being out there to wait for those rare moments of no traffic. It feels as if the whole universe stops moving and I’m the only human on Earth.

So my advice for the week: go outside. Whether you sit on a comfy chair or go for a run, it doesn’t matter, as long as you focus on the details of your surroundings and try to clear your mind from the stress of your days.

Oh, also, go barefoot. You literally feel grounded, because, you know, you’re directly touching the ground. Go barefoot and picture the energy of the Earth entering you. It’s peaceful energy. Try to hold on to that when you continue with stressful activities.