As I was sitting by the river having my morning coffee while on vacation this past week it struck me — a thought that has been worming its way around my head ever since. While there is a lot being said about children not going outside and being disconnected from nature (including here at TGSG), and kids being too plugged-in, there isn’t much being said about many grown-ups doing the same.
Why is that? Why are so many of us spending so much time indoors, over-structuring our lives, and constantly connected to media and technology in one form or another? Now, I am a person who makes time to unplug every day and get fresh air and have a relatively balanced life. I make a conscious effort to be playful and make sure I am living life, and not merely getting through it. At the same time, I am the first person to admit that I still spend too much time indoors — too much time plugged-in.
Sitting on the river out in the country, I was struck by something: I think we have grown uncomfortable with silence. As I listened to nothing but the sounds of birds, running water, a few goats down the way, and the sound of my own breathing it occurred to me that I had finally stopped. I was still, with nowhere to hide. And when you stop, you have to listen to what’s going on in your own head and heart — be it happy or sad. In silence, we find questions that can scare us, and sometimes answers that frighten us even more. We find odd, random thoughts and good things too — happy thoughts and memories.
I think many people are afraid of silence. Afraid of what they might whisper in their own ear. It is in nature that we are able to find this silence and are surrounded by such awe-inspiring beauty, that it cannot help but force a person to take stock in their life — to look at the latest version of themselves and ask the tough questions. Am I happy? What am I doing with my life? Am I on the right path? What should I be doing differently?
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe it’s the fear of bugs or snakes, or bad weather or wildlife. But somehow, I think those are easy things to scapegoat. I think that when we get back to nature, we get back to ourselves. No distractions but the vastness of the starry night, shining a light on us that seems hard to ignore.
I believe that the more few and far between these experiences in nature get, the more uncomfortable and unnatural they feel. When in reality, there is nothing more natural than listening to yourself or being at home in nature.
I guess I bring this up to offer one more reason that unplugging and spending time outdoors is something we should all do more of, and share with the children in our world. Checking in with yourself. Embracing a bit of silence and beauty on a regular basis as a way of connecting with yourself and keeping your life on the right track, versus the fast track. The more you do it, the less disconcerting it is. You will find your footing in silence far more quickly when it is not such an alien concept to you.
As I have often said, nature is the best therapist that any of us will ever have. And Mother Nature doesn’t bill $150 per hour.
See ya outside! – The Grass Stain Guru