There is one thing I know to be true for me and most people: the ability for nature to immediately rejuvenate the mind and body, especially after a week’s worth of hard work. I speak to all people who work tirelessly throughout the week when I say that doing so (working) would utterly drain all of our mental and physical potentials if not for that one refreshing place to which we escape and heal. Can we all agree that a day spent in nature is the prevailing remedy for our collective weariness?
That vast, vibrant canopy of trees shown above belongs to the Atlantic Rainforest, which surrounds the bustling city of Sao Paulo and stretches across the Eastern coast of Brazil. Undoubtedly this short trip to the forest has refreshed me both mentally and physically. But the remarkable thing—and I say this without exaggeration—is that this forest may have refreshed my perspective on how the world works as well. It was Professor Waverli Neuberger who helped me understand how differently others view the world from me. Her knowledge on the forest is vast and astonishing, but what surprised me the most was when she explained how deeply interconnected all species were to each other in the forest; essentially, the forest was one massive mat of cooperating organisms.
How could I have failed to realize such a major aspect of natural life despite it seeming so obvious in hindsight? Neighboring trees exchange nutrients with one another and communicate warnings by secreting chemicals. In mutualism, different species of animals work together to increase the chances of survival for each. Even single cells have learned long ago to join forces and create more complex, multicellular organisms. I knew all of this beforehand, and yet, I had always primarily regarded nature as a place of cold, fierce competition where only the fittest survive. I wonder if this notion is a reflection of the type of culture in which I was raised. Am I biased in seeing people and things as fundamentally isolated, separate entities? I look at Brazil and think about how it is a communal country that takes care of its citizens. This different culture may have profoundly affected how Brazilians see the inner mechanism of their own world (the forrest). As for me, I am glad that I had this opportunity to explore a new culture in order to refresh my outlook on life.