06.24.13 Truth & Wisdom

Learning About Life Through Nature

Learning About Life Through Nature

BY Molly Franken

I grew up in a small resort town on the Gulfside of Florida. It was the land of beautiful beaches, tropical weather and grey hair. The medians were manicured. The streets were clean. The yards were large. The plants were lush. The ocean was within a mile of my home. The entire space behind my parents’ home is a nature reserve. Growing up in such beautiful surroundings, I was always around awesome, natural environments. Looking back, I now realize all of this makes me fairly spoiled. I lived in a place that many only travel to for vacations. But, as most young people do, I completely took it for granted.

Fast forward to life in my semi-adult years when natural surroundings didn’t feel as important. The beauty of the land fell to the wayside while nightclubs, restaurants, stores all took precedence in my small world that certainly felt large at the time. Being connected with nature wasn’t a blip on the radar. Hell, being connected at all wasn’t a blip. I moved fast. I saw only what was around me. I had joined the race.

Which brings us to now. Life is different. The pace has slowed. The priorities have changed. I’m back living close to the water in Santa Monica, CA. I have a bike. I’ve started swimming at a nearby pool. I actually cook real meals. I have a yard. There are beautiful plants, trees and flowers in said yard. Some were here upon arrival, others my mother and I potted to prettify the space even more. I am responsible for caring for them and tending to them, with the help of a gardener once a week (Let’s not get THAT crazy!). I’ve recently planted an herb garden. I have potted succulents for inside my home. All this to say, I’m caring. Deeply. I’m caring about my surroundings. I’m connecting to nature in a whole new way. I’ve always loved picturesque views, rolling hills, snow-capped mountains, clear water beaches, desert canyons. Nature has always been awe-inspiring. This was never lost on me. I just chose, for a long time, not to pay as close of attention. I would happen upon spurts of amazement or heart swells when being in a beautiful locale. At that moment, I would feel connected and something deeper would tug at me. It would then pass as I dove right back into the hustle of life.

In this new endeavor of having my own hand in creating natural beauty, it takes on a much deeper meaning. I love quietly sitting and planting a new burgeoning flower into the soil. It’s therapeutic to water each plant, knowing that I am taking part in their livelihood. It feels good to grow something from seed to stalk. I feel like I’m contributing to something much larger than myself. I notice nature all around now in my daily life. I’m connecting in a new way.

Some of my plants haven’t made it. Some are thriving. Each time one goes back into the proverbial dirt grave, I feel a small sense of loss. Maybe I could have done something differently. Maybe I didn’t pay that particular one close enough mind. Perhaps I tended to it too much. However, it certainly doesn’t discourage me. For all those that are thriving, a new and surprising sense of accomplishment settles in. It feels good to create something. It feels good to nurture an already amazing facet of nature so it can dazzle even more fruitfully.

This planting and growing are, of course, incredibly symbolic. A lot of the lessons I learn through my gardening are intrinsically applicable to my life and myself. Loss, growth, nurturing and learning are weaved throughout the process. Simply knowing what feels good and what doesn’t, what to focus on and what to let go of. It’s almost cliche. But, plants don’t care about cliches and what other people think.

They just keep on growing, so I plan to do the same.

Molly Franken is in the business of making movies and, most recently, the business of writing words. Ideally, she aims at combining the two. You can follow her on Twitter @MTF.


  • Rebecka Hjorth

    This was truly a wonderful article. I think it is good for all of us to just take some of our free time to take a walk in the nature and just breathe in all that is good for you. Do not forget that nature is everywhere! Thank you for this, I think I am going to sit in a confortable chair and just watch the wonders of nature!

    • MTF

      Love it, and thank you!

  • Gabs

    Love this article. This is the reason why, as much as I love Manhattan, I couldn’t live there. I grew up in the suburbs of Miami (Kendall) and we’ve always had a front yard and back yard, with trees and plants, riding our bikes on the sidewalk. I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, I want them to experience that kind of childhood that’s so involved with nature.

    • MTF

      Understandable, fellow Floridian!

  • ptgramma

    A Gardener???? Close to the earth once removed I’d say

    • MTF

      A gardener taking care of the larger items on the property 1x weekly certainly doesn’t remove me from my own plants growth nor my personal growth as well. Warmest to you.

    • localhoney

      Haha, what a beastly comment! …this idea that we can’t ask for help is one of the biggest damagers to women. As though your knowledge, growth and gifts are negated if you can’t do it all alone. Keep it up, Molly! I’m on a similar journey learning to care for my green friends!

  • Sarah Beth

    Beautiful message. I had the wonderful opportunity to spend most of my late childhood in the mountains of Colorado and even though I enjoyed my surroundings there then, I did take them for granted. One day, I will go back and thank that land for everything it gave me. xx


  • Marjory Mejia

    Beautiful words. So glad you slowed down and returned to your love of nature. Our experiences as children really do inform who we are and become later in life. I wrote an article about ‘healing, breathing gardens’ that you might enjoy. It’s about making our gardens not just aesthetically pleasing, but sources of real, blossoming life 🙂


  • Claudia

    I really love the end! Lovely article. Nature is so relaxing. I love going to a nearby creek/trail in my neighbourhood to breath some clean air and feel close to the earth. 🙂

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