Sunday, April 22, 2012
Sadly there aren’t as many wild places anymore. Children no longer have much unstructured time or unstructured places in which to spend it. As a result, they have what Richard Louv describes as a “Nature Deficit Disorder.” He believes that lack causes all kinds of health and learning problems. According to Dr. William Bird, the chair of Britain’s Outdoor Health Forum, a person’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.
The same is true when I see blue oceans, brown deserts or even a vast grey sky. When I'm in nature, I don’t dwell on my own problems. I gain perspective. The woods, the sky, the ocean, the desert are all much larger than I am. The abundance of life outside myself doesn't diminish me. It expands me. When I am in nature, I feel part of the world.
Now that I’m an adult, I live in a city of 8 million people. When things go wrong, when I feel bullied or disappointed or discouraged, I walk to our nearby park. I find a spot where the grass isn’t mowed and the bushes aren’t trimmed. A hawk flies by. The wind rustles the branches. Two squirrels play chase up a tree. Life continues there, in a crazy profusion, so I feel like I can too.
You’ve probably heard a lot about saving the environment. Let’s not forget that when we save the environment, we are actually saving ourselves.