1. Nature on Display
This was by far one the most enjoyable and entertaining assignments that I have ever been apart of. Not only was the educational experience well represented, certain amusement and correspondence factors were apparent. Being able to experience the exhibits first-hand allowed me to benefit in both knowledge and worldliness, than had I read about such information in a textbook or watched it in a documentary. My personal favorite exhibit was the aviary, where I came face-to-face with many species of butterflies, moths, small birds and plants. It was so fascinating to see so many of them up close, with all their beautiful colors and patterns. Of course it was important to be respectful to all the creatures, for this was their home and sanctuary. It was amazing to see and appreciate the beauty in such little things as I walked throughout this exhibit. The whole time I was in there, I felt tranquil and at peace with my life and nature. The landscape was so aesthetically pleasing, and the flowing water emitted such satisfying sounds of tranquility. From speaking with an exhibit employee, I learned about the life cycle of a butterfly. It hatches from an egg as a caterpillar, eventually materializes a cocoon around itself for protection, as it grows and transforms into a beautiful butterfly. I found similar comparisons to my life and my quest in seeking the Good Life. We all desire this elegant life as a butterfly; however, it takes time through age and experience, similar to that of a caterpillar, before we can reach the next step in our lives. In relation to our lives, cocoons are the means in which we mold, or change our lives from the person we used to be into the person we seek to become. Examples of this process can include relinquishing negative habits and embracing our good ones. This comparison, a result of the aviary exhibit, bolstered my overall experience at the museum and allowed me to find it much more enjoyable.
2. Nature and Ethics
The Natural History Museum most definitely provided the opportunity to me to experience nature in the ways that Leopold recommends. Leopold spoke of of this planet as much more than just an economic opportunity for exploitation. True value is found in the natural beauty of the land. Untouched ecosystems, including plants, trees, animals, insects and so much more, are becoming less rare as they are being inhabited and polluted by mankind. Although it is imperative that we remain the dominant species on this planet, it is important for us to also learn to coexist with other species that dwell on this Earth with us. The museum gave me this opportunity to express the essential change that must take place in our society. The Native Floridians exhibit was the prime example of this theme. Prior to foreign takeovers, the state in which we currently live was home to numerous native Floridian tribes including the Miccosukee and Seminole Indians. They lived amongst groves and the natural land. Now, this once pristine habitat has been renovated and turned into business opportunities in order to make a profit. I felt ashamed that there are not many of these reservations left. Seeing the replicas made me feel as if I could actually experience these sights, sounds and feelings of tranquility and elusiveness in nature. It made me realize that we as society, need to do more to preserve the little-remaining untouched lands that we have left. My friend that I was with also felt similarly. We talked about going out on boat through these groves and seeing the real thing; however, where could we possibly still do this? We felt that this was the closest opportunity we had of experiencing what life in Florida was like a couple hundred years ago, because everything now is occupied by people. The pictures, artifacts, and especially the inside of the tribal hut, allowed us to have a more direct connection with nature and the past. An ethical responsibility of restoration and preservation brewed in me, as I contrasted life and land back then to the way it is now. There is great beauty found in the untouched, and we must do our best to unite with nature and preserve our natural lands.
3. Nature and the Human Spirit
Pretty much every exhibit in the Natural History museum allows us to step out outside of our ordinary lives and experience what life is like from a more natural and historical standpoint. As I walked throughout the museum, not a thought ran through my head about my hectic collegiate life or any sort of current event. It was an enjoyable escape from worrying about school and an upcoming test because it allowed me to experience the world from a whole different time period, when the current worries of today did not exist. Aside from having a fun time, the museum provided a significant break from my ordinary life and substituted it with an astonishing, historical and cultural experience. The museum allows us to better understand who we are by providing information on our backgrounds, roots and what environmental and cultural factors contribute to the people we are today. For example, though seeing the natural history of Florida, the more information I received, the more I was able to relate to and compare such attributes to myself. I also developed a greater appreciation for the mystery and majesty of the natural world. Although we've come a long way as a human race, there is still so much that we yet to know about ourselves and our planet. The world is so vast but waiting to be explored. The more mysteries we uncover, the better we will come to know ourselves and how we can enjoy this life more. However, this world is too bountiful for us to ever know everything. And that's what makes this life so mysterious, yet majestic. If one is on the search for the Good Life, it is imperative to stand back and appreciate the immensity and magnitude of this planet.
By Ryan Bowman