It’s weird. Americans keep spending more money on outdoor gear and clothing while spending less time outdoors. Granted these may be two different groups of people, but I still think the overall trend is ironic and more than a little alarming. It seems odd that although we like high tech, high quality outdoor clothing, we continue to become increasingly disconnected from wild nature where this stuff was made to be used. It doesn’t have to be that way. New clothes or not, it’s simple to reconnect with nature.
Here are a half dozen simple ways you can reconnect today. No purchase required.
1. Go outside. It doesn’t matter where. You’ll find that nature is all over the place outside. A city park, your yard, your garden (kudos & extra points if you have one), a state park, or even a suburban hedgerow between streets, will all have some kind of natural habitat. Check it out. Just wander around and look.
2. Leave your incredible, gee whiz, all-knowing, ever useful smartphone behind. You don’t need it. Sure there are lots of cool apps that can help identify birds, map your hike, and understand the sun, the moon, and the stars, but you don’t really need them. The problem is if you have your phone with you, you’re likely to get all the normal notifications to look at something else instead. Your cellphone will be a distraction, so leave it behind. Or at least turn it off if you must have it with you.
3. Look up. Get under some tall trees and just look up. Take your time, maybe get a chair, or just lie down on the ground. Enjoy the green patchwork of leaves. Note various patterns by letting your eyes change your focus from branches to leaves to sky.
4. Look down. Look carefully at the ground beneath your feet. Pick one small spot on the ground, maybe only a foot square, and see what’s there. Get down on your hands and knees. Poke and prod. You’ll be amazed at the small world that lies beneath our feet.
5. Go for a walk. Get out in your neighborhood. Take your time. Feel free to stop and look closely at whatever catches your attention. What kind of trees grow on your street? Are there wildflowers in bloom? Can you identify the songbirds you see? What’s the weather like today?
6. Share with a child. This one is close to my heart. It also may be just the motivation you need. For a child to experience the wonders of nature, he or she needs an adult who’ll share it with them and encourage their natural curiosity. If they haven’t already been influenced otherwise, children seem to know intuitively what many of us have forgotten: Nature is pretty cool, and endlessly fascinating.