The essay“ In the Jungle” tells a story of a woman who is used to works under high pressure and takes a journey to the Ecuadorian Jungle, and near the Napo River she finds out that she is no longer stressed and depressed anymore. The peaceful environment changes her completely. This example shows how the physical environment can affect people mentally. The Essay “Our Animal Rites” tells a story of a woman who encounters a bear by an accident, and she realizes that where she is living now, the country used to be the home of the bear. This fact shocks her and she starts to wonder whether she is the one who has taken the bear’s home away from it. This example shows how physical environment can affect people emotionally. Besides these, the environment can change people physically too. There are some major changes I experienced after I came to the U.S by the way I dressed, the way I talked or treated people even my regular schedule. The physical environment and human beings change each other. When people come into a new environment that they have never been in, they will be affected, or changed physically, emotionally and mentally at different levels because people always have different reactions when they face different environments, and that is why they change.
The physical environment can affect people emotionally because different environments can change people’s attitude about one specific thing or the point of view of the same situation. Dillard describes her journey in the jungle very specifically. After she reaches her destination, she realizes how peaceful and amazing that place is, “Each breath of night smelled sweet, more moistened and sweet than any kitchen, or garden, or cradle”(37). This quote shows she finds the jungle is much better than the place she used to live. Nothing can compare to the smell of nature, not even her expensive daily supplies because the environment she is currently living is cannot be replaced or faked. Nature calms her nerves and gives her time to reflect on her own life. During the vacation, she lets some little naïve girls play with her hair, which is another thing that she never do before. “Later that night I loosed my hair from its braids and combed it smooth—not for myself, but so the village girls could play with it in the morning”(37) This is a symbol of her truly loose her pressure and face this world with another type of personality, which is who she really is, without any defense or pretending. “The Napo River: It is in the way, catching sunlight the way a cup catch poured water; it is a bowl of sweet air, a basin of greenness, and of grace, and it would seem, of peace” (40) From this essay, the mood of Dillard has some significant changes. She finds out that she is more peaceful inside. After she feels the calming environment of mother nature, she becomes more peaceful because the environment surrounding her changes, so her mood changes instantly too.
The physical environment can affect people mentally because there are a lot of unexpected events that can change people’s attitude whether positive or negative. The essay “Our Animal Rites”, Quindlen mentions she starts to wonder if she took the bear’s home away from it after the encounter, and she cannot forget about this idea. “Sometimes I think it is because instead of feeling that the bear is trespassing on my property, in my heart I believe that I am trespassing on his”(33) Quindlen thinks she is the one who took land from the bear. This idea bothers her and cannot be eliminated easily, so she becomes suspicious and doubtful; she feels guilty about taking the bear’s territory even though deep inside she knows she had nothing with the whole situation. ‘Somewhere out there the bear is watching, picking his nits and teeth, breathing his raggedy bear breath, and if he could talk, maybe he’d say “I wonder they’re going back where they belong. (34) Quindlen humanizes the bear she encounters and exchanges the point of view with it to rethink the same situation from a different perspective. The physical environment also changes her mentally. People react differently when they face different environments or circumstances, and this change affects them mentally too.
The physical environment can affect people physically too. Take me as example. Before I came to the U.S., I was an ordinary girl who went to school at 7 a.m. and was home at 5 and did all my homework on time, never hanged out with my friends and did not know to put makeup on or fancy clothes due to requirements of my middle school. I did not listen to music that much because my teacher thought being a fan of some stars could have some negative effects on my grade. After I came here, I found out everything was totally different than I expected. Girls who were my age all have makeup and skinny jeans and nail polish to school. They had time to hang out with their friends after school instead of just going home and doing homework. They could also go out on Friday Night until midnight. That is something I could not even dream of. After a few months passed by, I started to get involved in school. I learnt the way they dressed, the way they talked and some places they would like to go to after class. I also started to learn how to put makeup on and abandoned all my old clothes for some new ones. It has been almost four years since I got here, and I think I am a completely different person now, not mentally, but physically because my parents and friends noticed the difference in different time periods which are when I was in China and when I am here right now. The environment can also affect people physically too.
The physical environment can change people in various ways. The essay “In the Jungle” proves that the physical environment can affect people emotionally while “Our Animal Rites” shows how physical environment can affect people mentally. From my personal experience, the physical environment also change people physically too. Changing is like a double-edged sword. It can lead people to different paths. Some people lose themselves during the changing process while others can hold on the spirit of who they are and become better people.