Do you remember playing outside as a child? For me, growing up in the 70’s and 80’s meant that you could roam the neighborhood and adventure and explore, as long as you stayed within the sound of your mother’s voice calling you back inside. I road my bike to friend’s houses, where we turned yards and driveways into cites using chalk to create roads and complete with gas stations made out of super-cool shaped trees; the ones with a slit or hole, perfect for handing over our pretend money (we had no debit cards or ATM’s then, just cold-hard, pretend cash) to the imaginary attendant inside. I explored creeks near my house, pretending the rocks were poolside lounging decks for my Polly Pockets who also saved each other from doom, because they were versatile gals. I sat under blackberry and raspberry bushes, eating almost ripe berries until my stomach hurt. I pretended I was Laura Ingalls Wilder, on a wagon-train to a foreign new place, which just happened to be the small wheat field on a hill above the back-yard of my house. Then something happened. Was it puberty? Was it societal constraints? Suddenly, I was supposed to be serious and give up playing outside. Memorizing lyrics on mix-tapes, perfecting hideous shading of frosted eye shadow chaos on my lids, and figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up became the thing to do.
What was left behind? Imagination and the outdoors. Climbing trees, hugging trees, turning trees into something else with our imagination-gone. The pure bliss and freedom of the wind in my hair as I flew on my bike down our steep neighborhood hills, peddling my legs numb, leaving my heart pounding by the time I reached the top of the next hill-gone. Listening to the creek trickle, changing the sounds as I moved each rock-gone. The joy of finding snacks in nature so that I didn’t have to go inside and because wild berries are awesomely good-gone.
Fast forward to adulthood. I have raised two daughters, and taking them outside to play and adventure was amazing. Watching them swing for the first time with their eyes lighting up in glee, teaching them to ride their bikes…all awesome. But due to location and circumstances, it was never like when I was a child. And, as a former type A personality, every minute had to be supervised for safety, maximum enrichment and kept within the nap schedule. Heaven forbid I go astray and possible FAIL mommying. Sigh. There were no books in the mainstream on re-wilding when I was raising my girls.
Depressing isn’t it? I think we have all had enough. I have just felt like something was missing for so long. I have finally figured it out. It’s my disconnection from nature. How about you? Do you remember what it feels like to stand in a creek? To feel that cool water rushing around your toes and ankles, feel the smooth rocks beneath your feet and hear the magical, tinkling sounds of the water dancing across rock formations. Do you remember taking a hike through the moutains to hear the birds calling and swooping past you. To climb so much and so high you feel your heart pounding in your chest, and then you are rewarded with breaktaking vistas and nature in all her glory to show off for you and leave you in awe and wonder.
Let’s get outside. Let’s have fresh air fill our lungs and the sun shine vitamin D down on us. Let’s let the water provide a cleansing meditation for us. Let’s wonder and imagine and become creative again as we explore all of the mind-blowing intricacies in nature! What’s your favorite way to experience the power of nature?