Living up here in the mountains I am continually reminded how much being in nature helps me to feel centered. I grew up in the outdoors, whether it was in my backyard in Houston or in the woods of Interlochen, MI – I was continually told to go outside! I’ve come to the conclusion that this time outdoors taught me three main things that continue to impact my life: a) that a little dirt never hurt anybody, b) I CAN solve my own problems, and c) to respect the world around me. I know that I wasn’t consciously learning these things during my childhood – I was to busy imagining up an outlandish story plot with my siblings and bringing it to life in the Michigan woods – and I’m quite certain I did not consciously use any of this information till I started a process of self-discovery.
Today, it seems as though nature is getting the cold shoulder as we delve further into our technology-based lifestyles. I can honestly say I would be lost for a while without access to my various forms of technology, but I also know I could live pretty happily without (constant) access. 🙂 I recently read an article in OUTSIDE magazine by Richard Louv where he expands on his theory of ‘nature deficit disorder’ that he believes our society is affected by. The term ‘nature deficit disorder’ first came out in Louv’s 2005 book Last Child in the Woods, and refers to the trend that children are spending less time outdoors, which results in behavioral disorders. The disorder has not been scientifically studied, but recent studies done have shown a connection between intelligence levels and time spent outdoors. “At least two factors are involved: first, our senses and sensibilities can be improved by spending time in nature; second, the natural environment seems to stimulate our ability to pay attention, think clearly, and be more creative,” says Louv. My own experiences have proved both of these factors to be true for me.
Louv also reflects on our high-tech lifestyles, saying that without a force to balance our electronic immersion it drains, “our ability to pay attention, think clearly, be productive and creative”. He believes there is balance between the physical and digital world, “the hybrid mind”, in which we use technology to help process our intellectual data and the natural environment to define our senses and stimulate creativity and feeling.
For me, our natural environment provides me with the serenity to accept life as it is, reminds me that I’m not really that important, and shows me that a little dirt or hard work isn’t going to kill me!
“The world is big. The world is awesome. The world is to go out and explore.” – Ronnie Simpson