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The Complexity of Human and Nature

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Boyang Su


Jody Cohen

6, November, 2014

The Complexity of Human and Nature

In her poem Meta/phor, Andrea Friedman wrote about how rocks can represent McBride students. A walk in the Morris wood, looking at the trees and leaves on it also struck me with the idea that how nature resembles people. Looking further into Horowitz’s piece, A Certain Style of “Quaker Lady” Dress, narrated the history of Bryn Mawr College and showed how different Bryn Mawr is now compared to goal of the initiator and the view of M. Carcy Thomas, which also led me to reflect on how the environment and human shape each other mutually.

It’s autumn now, a colorful season. Rambling in the Morris wood, the tall trees surrounding me caught my eyes. A tree in front of me which I can’t name is soaring but thin with just a few leaves left, mostly on the very top of the branches. The withered leaves present a light yellowish color, the most special color among all the trees. Another tree beside it is more exuberant, the leaves on the tip of branches are dyed red by autumn while the leaves at the bottom are still verdant. Scanning the environment around me, I found every tree has its own unique color and style, reminding me of how human beings vary from one to another. Physically, no two leaves have the same shape, just like no two persons have the same appearance; no two leaves have the same pattern, just like no two persons have the same fingerprint. Furthermore, no two trees have the same picture of rings, just like no two persons have the same life experience, the same story.

Andrea Friedman used rocks as a metaphor for McBride students because of rock’s process of formation and its properties. We can understand a McBride like “reading a rock” (Friedman): all the “pressure and stress” (Friedman) underground a rock gone through resembles the hardship a McBride student experienced in her early life and the utility of the rocks as the walls of Taylor and Thomas made McBride student the representation of enduring wisdom. Similarly, different colors of leaves could also represent the diverse personalities of people. The personalities could be influenced by the environment as the colors of trees are affected by seasons and temperature. Moreover, many different colors on one tree resembles that a person will never have just a single kind of personality. Representing people, both the leaves and the rocks, the various colors of leaves and the complicated layers of sediment that forms a rock, brought out a same concept of human beings, complexity. Though environment is a major factor in shaping rocks, trees and human beings, because of the different personalities, the complexity of our mysterious inner structures, we grow into different individuals.

Like the diverse trees on Bryn Mawr campus, there is also a huge diversity among Bryn Mawr students. However, as Horowitz said, the school was found first to be an orthodox Quaker College, and then M. Carcy Thomas became the president and relieved it from the restraint of religion but she put more stress on class and race. Bryn Mawr at that time was only friendly to white upper class women, totally different from the diverse community it has now. It was time and students that changed the school. As time goes on, many concepts changed and developed, students aren’t willing to be constraint by the doctrine any longer. With their subjective initiative, students will rise to fight for change. This is how students and college mutually shape each other. Likewise, it is well accepted that human beings control our environment; we plan the places of the architectures and manage the plants around us. Nevertheless, as they selected the highest place to build Taylor hall and designed the valley as gymnasium, in some ways, human’s action are also limited by geological factors. Although many trees and flowers are planted and designed by gardeners instead of the nature, the plants must be adapted to the local temperature and humidity in order to root into the soil. Another important thing human can hardly control is the diversity of the vigorous plants. Human build things on the landscape and the landscape also decides on what they want to bear. The campus is not only created by human, but also by the natural environment. The truth is that human and environment shape each other.

Relating my own experience to the materials, I was caught by the complexity of leaves, rocks and human. Human and nature are both complex but must have some kind of similar rule behind them that enables them to resemble each other and shape each other mutually.

Works cited

Andrea Friedman, Meta/phor. April-May 2002