Truly Powerful People (200)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

A few years ago Duncan sent me an article about Nature Deficit Disorder – children who are deprived of nature. I rolled my eyes. I don’t have kids and I grew up running through the mountains, playing in the streams, riding my bike off of cliffs, throwing mud, looking at stars and sneezing in the spring (I had terrible allergies). I was wary about the article because it seems to me we have a cultural predisposition to see pathology everywhere. “Where are the parents,” I thought. “Go outside and play!”

And then…. I’m now convinced that we are so used to the reproduction that we rarely recognize the authentic. Our environments are constructed, our realities artificial. I’m now collecting phrases overheard in public spaces, things like “Those stars look just like the ones in the planetarium!” Or, “Those frogs sound just like a soundtrack!” I delight in the term “reality TV;” do an experiment: point a camera at someone and note the face they put on (note how you change when a lens is focused on you). The island is constructed, the race is scripted; there is a cameraman behind that camera so that intensely private moment you think you are watching is…a performance.

It is less a disorder than how we construct order. Distraction. Comfort. Disconnection from nature (unless used as a playground) is an intention. These are our priorities. Nature is messy and there are bugs. It is not an accident that the soundtrack is more recognizable than the frogs. And the frogs – the real ones – are disappearing (a phenomena known as “mystery declines”). From what I understand, a frog’s skin is porous and absorbs water so it is especially susceptible to pollutants in the environment (hmmmmm). Some researchers say that disappearing frog populations are an early warning signal of ecosystems in trouble.

Isn’t this yet another case of label-libel (the label absolves us from further thought). Place side-by-side the terms, “Nature Deficit Disorder,” “mystery declines,” and “Ecosystems in trouble” and ask yourself, is this really a mystery? Are these labels particularly sanitary and devoid of personal relevance?

Perhaps an early warning signal that we are in trouble is that the stars look just like the ones in the planetarium. The next time you wonder what life is all about, go outside, find someplace that you consider to be nature and sit for a spell. Take your shoes off. Get dirty. Feel the rain. Swat the fly. Imagine that you are a participant, part of it all.

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