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Is it SELFISH to spend time nature journaling?

This is a question I hear people ask sometimes. With all of the huge problems in the world, shouldn’t I spend time actually DOING something to help solve them?

Listen to my answer in this 3-minute video, or read the transcript:

Video Transcript

Hi I’m Rebecca Rolnick, and if we haven’t met yet, I’m a nature journal teacher.

A question I hear people ask sometimes is: “Is it selfish to spend time nature journaling?"

With all of the huge problems happening in the world, and all the action that we need to take on an international scale….

Why should I get to spend time sketching and writing about this tiny little flower, or this bird, or animal track in front of me? Shouldn’t I spend time actually DOING something to help solve the problems we’re facing?

It’s a good question. And, if you’ve asked yourself this, it means you care a lot.

So today I’m going to share three reasons why I believe not only is it not selfish to spend time nature journaling – but it actually might be one of the most impactful things you can do to help the world.

  1. First off, a lot of the problems we’re seeing in the world are happening BECAUSE people are disconnected from nature. Spending time nature journaling is helping to fix that root problem. And, then when we develop that connection in ourselves, it spreads to the other people around us.

  2. Second, we can't help heal the land if we don't know what's going on with it. One example comes from Rachel Carson. You might know her as the author of Silent Spring, a book that alerted people to the dangers of DDT and other chemical pesticides, and it helped kickstart the modern environmental movement in the 60s. She didn’t just notice that there were frogs singing in the land around her. She noticed when she DIDN’T hear them. Do YOU know your local ecosystem well enough to recognize not only when something is there, but to realize when it is missing? When we have our finger on the pulse of our ecosystem, when we know what’s healthy and what’s not, that’s the first step to figuring out what the land needs, and how we can help.

  3. And finally, when we nature journal, we’re giving our attention and care to the natural world around us. Nature journaler John Muir Laws says that love is “sustained, compassionate, attention,” whether to nature or to a person we care about. And that ITSELF has a lot of value, even before we take action in a more physical way. It’s a gift that we’re giving in gratitude for the life-giving systems that we depend on for our survival.

So, it’s not an either / or question. We don’t have to choose between spending time nature journaling, doing things that bring us joy and rejuvenate us, OR doing things to take action, whether that’s through stewardship, planting native species, speaking up at a town hall meeting, or writing to your representatives. We need to have both pieces of the puzzle. Having your own connection to the natural world is where it all starts, and everything else can flow from there.

So, go step outside your front door, take your nature journal with you, and have an adventure this week!

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