Sitting in traffic on my way home from the library the other day, I got to thinking:
Nature – the great outdoors – is a lot like the public library.
Nature is space free for all to visit, all to peruse, all to enjoy – paid for by tax dollars, public & private benefactors, and citizen fundraising; maintained by forest rangers and naturalists (the librarians of their wild spaces) and the enthusiasm of volunteers.
We go to the library to learn: a vast collection of non-fiction books on every topic imaginable, waiting to be read and gleaned from. There is always something new to be found on a library shelf. We can go to nature to learn as well. Every walk in the woods will reveal something new.
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher. ~William Wordsworth
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books. ~John Lubbock
You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters. ~St. Bernard
We go to the library for enjoyment: genre upon genre of fiction, poetry, picture books, movies, comics, how-to books. We can go out in nature for enjoyment too. A mud-puddle and a mountain are always ready to provide a new experience.
when the world is mud-luscious…[and] puddle-wonderful. ~e.e. cummings
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~Khalil Gibran
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature’s sources never fail. ~John Muir
Just as our minds long for ideas that we can find in a book at the library, so our hearts and eyes long for nature – photos of breath-takingly beautiful nature scenes abound on Pinterest, are shared on Instagram, and hang on the walls of homes & offices around the world.
With innovation and technology, seems we have forgotten to cherish the true beauty the world has to offer. ~A.C. Van Cherub
Yet, unlike the library – still a place of generally hushed reverence (except during toddler story time!), nature is often carelessly used as a dumping ground – tires, empty cans, golf balls, and a large collection of half-filled plastic water bottles litter the creek near my home. Would you ever find these in your local library? Who keeps the library clean? Who keeps the natural spaces around your home clean?
If we all treated nature more like the library, I think the world would be a better place. We borrow. We return. We pay our fines when owed. We preserve. We respect. We enjoy!
May you find yourself out in nature or in a library today — better yet, both!