Some of the most valuable lessons we take with us throughout our lives are the ones we learn first. Our parents can’t always explain what certainties lay ahead for us in adulthood and what challenges we will face with humanity and ourselves. So, they provide us with stories; stories that give us something to visualize, relate to, and refer to over and over. Our personalities begin to emerge and our values are instilled within us.
My love of nature was bound to be strong with my being raised on a farm, but my desire to learn from it and protect it was cemented when I was shown all the examples through books and films that I still draw from today. I’ve become a proud tree hugger due to the stories I was given as a child and I now want to pass them on to others, whether you be a future parent, or having a moment of nostalgia… or both.
“The Secret Garden” (although I grew up on the 1993 film, it is originally a book by Frances Hodgson Burnett) was a rock for me in a time of grief and much like the main characters, I learned it wouldn’t consume me forever. Though I may go through a winter of emotional turmoil, spring always returns and life flourishes with it. It all depends on one’s perspective, and “If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”
In Disney’s “Pocahontas”, Grandmother Willow represented a figure of wisdom and guidance for me. A sense of strength was provided when, instead of sugar-coating everything, statements such as “Listen with your heart.” and “Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one.” were delivered plain and simple. The message was crystal clear that even if I stand alone, I must always stay true to myself and do the right thing; because the ripples of our actions are “So small at first, then look how they grow. But someone has to start them.”
Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” may seem to be just a simple children’s book, but looking back on it, I realized how intricate it is in its morals and perspectives. Things change, friendships evolve, we all grow old, happiness can be gained through generosity, and love can be one-sided, but just because someone is willing to give us everything, doesn’t mean they have the right to take it all away. And especially where nature is concerned, if we take it all away, we cannot give it back. We can only start anew.
“FernGully: The Last Rainforest” and Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” deal with deforestation, industry, and pollution; issues still very much at large today. As a child, even the idea that something as magical as the rainforest or the Truffula trees could be poisoned or wiped out at all was frightening enough, but that the reason for their devastation being something as material as money or a “thneed” made me think becoming an adult must be a very confusing business where priorities were concerned. Material things don’t last; whereas a forest will not only last, but provide. I resorted to remain clear on this view when I grew up and to become someone who “cares a whole awful lot,” and will “help it grow.”
I have no doubt these stories/lessons from early childhood are why I am so drawn to tentree’s cause of contributing to the environment’s healthy future. We must always hold on to our childish innocence, but in order to protect the world we play in we must sometimes take the parental role away from Mother Nature and give back to her where others have taken; for ourselves, for our children, and our children’s children.