Nature as Teacher

by Sebastian Slovin

My father died when I was six years old and his death had a profound impact on me in many ways. Perhaps the biggest impact was how it changed my relationship with nature. My father loved to swim and loved the ocean. Many of my memories of him are in and around the sea. After his death, my father was cremated and we spread his ashes into the ocean.

From that moment on I viewed the ocean as my father, as part of my family. He was there in the waves and in the sand, in all the different plant and animal life that thrives in and around the sea. When I was out surfing and a sea lion popped up to swim beside me, I saw the sea lion as a part of my family.  I began to develop more of a relationship and bond with nature than I ever had before. Over time this grew to encompass not just the ocean but all of nature. I started to see him in everything and in that sense, I was never alone again. 

Growing up I spent much of my spare time at the beach or in the ocean or at local parks. I began to observe nature closely and listen intently. Each time I go for a walk or a swim is like spending time with a great master.  I came to realize that nature could teach me everything that I needed to learn. How to be still. How to move. How to listen. How to feel. How to love. How to accept. How to forgive. It’s all out there in nature.  Nature is the greatest teacher I could have asked for, gently reminding me of past lessons and sharing new wisdom with me daily.