Jen's MEM Journey

Good Morning World
by Jennifer Weiss -- March 26th, 2012

Some days, life should be as simple as listening to the birds sing.

I woke up this morning to the sounds of the birds. While this is nothing new (they wake me up every morning), for some reason I had a new respect for them this morning.  Rain or shine, my bird friends are up each morning chirping their happy song and welcoming the day.  At least it sounds like a happy song.  For all I know, they could be yelling at their kids to get out of bed.  But, it sure sounds pretty.

Some mornings I just don’t feel like getting out of bed. This, of course, is for a variety of reasons – most of which aren’t that pleasant.  But, every day my bird friends beckon me to wake up and join them.  Some mornings, I put a pillow over my head and ignore them.  Some mornings I reluctantly get up and head downstairs to start my day.  But this morning, snuggled under my covers, I lay in bed and actually listened to their song.

This morning, I had a full appreciation for their world and why they sing every morning to welcome the day.  They sing because it is part of who they are – it is their morning routine. I am obviously not a bird, but I like to imagine that their morning ritual is part of their gift to the world.  It’s as if they are saying “Thank you world for bringing me another day.  Another day to sing, to fly, to enjoy the treasures of the earth.”

My last semester here at the Nicholas School has been full of these types of eye-opening realizations.  This is due primarily to three things:  1)  health issues that made me realize that I am not invincible; 2) my master’s project that has inspired me to continue to teach our young generation about the wondrous environment in which we live and 3) two fabulous ethics classes that have taught me to think about our world in new and exciting ways.

Here’s what I’ve learned.  We can make our lives simple or we can do things to overcomplicate it – the real balance is probably somewhere in between. My bird friends are not making lists in their heads for everything that needs to be done. They are not dreading an upcoming exam or paper that needs to be written. They are not trying to figure out how they will pay their bills or what type of high paying job they can get.  They are not worried about their carbon footprint.  At least I don’t think they are.

I prefer to think that the birds are happy with their place in the world. They are content to freely fly among the trees, make their nests, and share seeds with the squirrels.  And, oh yes, they are free to sing.

As an environmentalist, I try to do things to help make the world a better place for future generations. I try to “do the right thing” and teach others to do the same. But, I also find myself overcomplicating my message.  Famous environmentalists such as Wendell Berry and Aldo Leopold urge us to live more simply and develop an environmental ethic that understands and appreciates the natural world’s beauty.  They urge us to give back to the Earth with care and compassion and offer our thanks for what we have been given.

Some days, I wish I could live as carefree as a bird. To live simply, enjoy what life has to offer, and sing. To appreciate the life I have been given and give back by offering my song.  Of course if I were a bird, then I might have to get up a little earlier in the morning.  I wonder if birds take naps?

©2016 Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University | Box 90328 | Durham, NC 27708
how to contact us > | login to the site > | site disclaimers >

footer nav stuff