My Love Story with Nature

My childhood encounters with plants ain’t pleasant.

Seared in the back of my child mind were memories of agony and itch, like my headlong dash into a bush of spiky greens strategically positioned a mere few feet away from the finish line delineated by my fellow racing partner (who did not succumb to the same prickly predicament). I spent the following week extracting tiny little thorns from my body. Fun times.

This is a money plant.
Hello. This is a money plant.

My parents had green fingers and were enthusiastic about potted plants. We always had a corner in our balcony where our little green friends reside, surrounding the superstitious Asian family indispensable “money plant”. The money plant looked nothing like cash and I knew that from a really young age. Hence, anyone who answers “money plant, because I wanna be rich” to the question “what’s your favourite plant?” will receive a good eye-rolling from me.

Anyway, I didn’t like plants because I didn’t approve of the parenting techniques my mother imposed upon me and hence by association, I disliked the things she enjoyed doing. I know. That’s a display of real maturity right there.

So a couple of years rolled by with me buried in books and rote learning, without the capacity of thought lent to nature or plants.

Realising my love for mud and dirt
Realising my love for mud and dirt

Then, this happened.

I joined the Tree N Trunks team in 2013. This was an overseas service learning project organised under the NUS Roteract Club, with a focus on conservation, which was something I had felt a tiny sense of attraction for. The pre-trip CIP happened to be doing up a garden for a certain primary school in the East. That was the day I fell in love with wet mud, sweat, toil and garden hoes. Digging through the soil and being in touch with plants was really meditative for me.

The actual trip to Chiang Mai was the first time I’ve truly experienced the magic of nature. Being up in the mountains, away from technology meant that we had to rely heavily on what the Earth offered us. I recall hating the cold showers I have to will myself to take in the river which runs through the village. The water was freezing but so clear you could see the rocky riverbed, a mosaic of earthly pieces.

Being away from WiFi also meant that we were having real conversations within ourselves and I’ve met some really cool people there (unfortunately, we’ve drifted apart but yes I’m learning that life’s like that).

It was also there and then I fell in love with the sky, the canvas where great art is created everyday but obscured by light pollution in the city I grow up in. One of the best memories of my life has to be huddling around a fire, gazing upon the night sky scattered with stars, the beautiful silence, the whiffs of exhalation misty in the night.

And then a semester later, I packed my bags and headed to Kansas. Mid West. Farms. Sunflower fields. Pumpkin patches. This was the first time I was so far removed from cities from such an extended period of time and I’ve noticed significant differences in the lifestyles we lead.

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Somehow, people seemed to be happier here. I can see why. The sky was wide and unobstructed, allowing us the daily appreciation of the majestic moments of dusk and dawn. Respiration came easily and freely, without the usual encapsulation by concrete where we walk around in a perpetual warm embrace by invisible beings. It was the first time I had cycled and ran so extensively (before hell froze over when the winter winds came) because I relished in solitude, of being able to go for miles without ever running into another human being.

The people there were pretty laid back too. Contrary to the sentiment I have seen on 9GAG where much resentment was expressed towards service personnel who chatted with shoppers, I enjoyed random conversations with strangers. The thing is, they listen and then share something trivial about themselves. I really enjoyed the feeling of connection with my fellow Earthlings.

I don’t really know what spurred me on to start this post but somehow I’m here, with nary an idea about where this is leading to. Hence, I’m going to leave this at it.

Twas is the rise and fall of motivation levels in my current being.


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