Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Nature-deficit disorder II (6/14/2016)

What is the common thread in my life (other than my wife, family and friends)?  There are a few, but they all come down to the same common denominator which is nature.  Whether nature is green (the forests) or blue (the water or even the expansive sky), it does not matter to me, I like being out there.  I believe in the healing power of nature, it calms me down and heals the soul. 

As a teenager growing up in the Caribbean I could spend hours outside on our desert island imagining how to landscape the yard.  My parents had just built our home in this new subdivision and it was still a partial construction site.  But I just walked through the yard will all these designs in my head.  There was no day-time TV, no computer games or anything like that and yes we had to walk through 3 feet deep snow to school even in the Caribbean.  Just kidding of course.  I never go to landscape our yard; we moved away, back to the Netherlands.  But even in 3rd and 4th grade after school my best friend Michiel and I would be playing outside in the bush exploring things, finding what we thought to be hidden caves and beautiful flowering plants.

I still do it to present days, as I like to say to the dogs on Saturday mornings, “let’s walk the grounds”; our yard is slightly shy of a half-acre, so nothing to write home about, but I still imagine things.  I attempt to grow bonsais and I will go look at my trees trying to imagine what they will look like years from now.  One thing I do too little off during my rounds is, to my wife’s annoyance, pull weeds; I just enjoy a very slow walk and looking at nature, like the towhees digging through last year’s fall leaves that we left in all the perennial beds.  We tend not to use any pesticides or fertilizers in our yard and it usually teams with weeds, birds, frogs, toads, skinks, butterflies, squirrels, moles, voles, mosquitoes, and ticks in our yard.  We built a huge stick pile which is a refuge for all kinds of birds, a pair of rabbits, and the other day, our beagle flushed a fawn out of it.  We have a nature preserve behind our home and one of the things I do is to stand in our yard and look out over it in anticipation of fall weather when temperatures at night are low enough again for the chiggers and ticks to become dormant, so we can go out there again.

When not in the yard on his afternoon off from school, this teenager growing up on a Caribbean island was either sailing or swimming/snorkeling.  But he was always enjoying some other form of nature.  He was rarely ever brooding inside.  He was brooding outside. 

Regular readers know my love for the water and sailing.  Just a visit to the beach always amazes the family; I can just sit in the surf and never come out.  Sitting on the beach on the sand does not interest me one bit, I want to be in the water; that is where I am at home.  The same is the case for being on the water, in a sailboat. 

Extroverts need people around them to recharge.  I need nature around me to do that.  Being an introvert I wonder if all or many introverts recharge that way, or if they all recharge differently?  But for me it is nature, be it green or blue, it really does not matter to me. 

I know I am not alone in this.  When I began writing this post my wife ran into the following article published by the BBC.  It describes how exposure to nature is good for you.  It is based on a scientific research article published <here>.  It showed that people who where exposed to nature for 30 days or longer were significantly happier than before they were exposed to nature.  As I mentioned in my blog about Richard Lowe's book, he has seen the same in the research he has reviewed.  The book on the Blue Mind by Wallace Nichols has the same premise (see the list of books I am reading).  While it is slow reading for me, it is not a bad book (it is actually a great book); but I have so many other important things I am doing, like exploring nature and sailing.

A picture of this weekend's sail.  This was "Blue Mind" for sure, 15 knot winds, some fun intense sailing, we had no chance to think about anything else.  We were living in the moment.

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