Gratitude for Nature

    By KCI Ambassador Chris Grady

Something I learned from my father is the simple joy of taking slow, deep nose breaths in nature. Growing up in Kennebunkport, I was lucky enough to spend my childhood enjoying our clean air, beautiful beaches, and lush forests. Although I did not have a worldly perspective as a kid, each deep breath I took filled me with profound gratitude towards the environment and the town. Now I observe the progression of our inconsistent winters, seasonal flooding, and warming waters, and I cherish those brief moments of gratitude a little more with each passing season.

Thinking back to the winters I cherished as a kid, I recall bundling up in my snow gear and stepping outside into 3 feet of thick, wet snow. The kind that is perfect for making snowballs, snowmen, and my favorite, snow forts. There were, however, a few winters that had significantly less snow, and far more hot days. One January day was as hot as 80 degrees! My brother and I spent the whole day in swimsuits throwing snowballs at each other and spraying each other with the hose, but by sunset we were left so confused by the anomaly. And although one hot day in January was fun, the best winters were the kind that had snow piled high enough to make snow forts my father could fit in. And the more inconsistent our winters become, the more hot days we have, and the likelihood of the next generation enjoying winters filled with snow forts, snowmen, and someday even snowballs, disappears.

I challenge you to think about your favorite place in the world. If you had to pick one reason why you love it so much, what would that be? More often than not, it is a place outdoors. Close your eyes and imagine yourself there. What do you see, what do you smell, what do you hear, and how does it make you feel? For me it is a hot summer day at Goose Rocks Beach. I see my friends nearby, I feel a warm fluffy breeze gently brush against my skin, I smell the nurturing ocean scent, and hear the crashing waves drown out my friends’ laughter. I wish I could bottle that memory and share it with the world to transport them to a place of gratitude for the immense beauty of our environment. It feels like an injustice that some people in this world have never experienced something like this. If we don’t put all our energy into preserving it, there may come a day when no one has this experience.

As a community, state, nation, and globe, we need to start looking deeper into the underlying mechanisms of global warming and begin to advocate for collaboration on holistic, systemic solutions which preserve our way of living while regenerating our degraded environment. We have neglected our natural symbiotic relationship with our environment for a long time and now it is beginning to neglect us. At the end of the day, the energy we put towards restoring our environment will be recycled and given back to us through clean oceans, fertile soil, clean air, and a global attitude shift towards love, abundance, and gratitude.

Each passing breath represents a missed opportunity to act on global warming, so let’s trust each other enough to unite as a world and the humility to admit our collective shortcomings. Let’s have the courage to do what we know is right in our hearts, and the faith to persevere even when blinded by doubt. We have had the trust in humanity to get us into this mess, we can surely have trust in our abilities to get out of it.