It has been said that everyone should sit in nature for 10 minutes every day, and if you don’t have 10 minutes, you should sit for an hour.
I need nature. You need nature. We all need nature.
We’re not getting enough of nature nowadays. The ever-widening gap between humans and nature is being driven apart by a wedge. Our children are at the sharp end of this wedge. They are growing up in a society obsessed with money, they’re exposed to an excess of technology, and are rampant on social media platforms. We’re being pushed further from nature, resulting in a dramatic increase in cases of depression, obesity and attention disorders.
Read the groundbreaking book “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv. He coined the phrase “Nature Deficit Disorder”. It’s a book that changed the way I thought about kids and nature.
John Muir (1838 to 1914) was fondly known as “The Founder of the National Parks”. He was instrumental in setting up vast tracts of wilderness areas in North America. It is said that Muir valued nature for its spiritual and transcendental qualities. In one essay about the National Parks, he referred to them as “places for rest, inspiration, and prayers”. He often encouraged city dwellers to experience nature for its spiritual nourishment.
In 1903, Muir took President Teddy Roosevelt out wild camping in Yosemite National Park. It was a night Roosevelt never forgot. He later told a crowd, “Lying out at night under those giant Sequoias was like lying in a temple built by no hand of man, a temple grander than any human architect could by any possibility build.”
I read a powerful piece of writing years ago, and it resonated strongly with me. It is the dedication of a book called “The Miracle Rivers” by Peter and Beverly Pickford.
It was while looking down into a nameless waterway in the Okavango Delta that ourselves and a friend came to talking of fish. He told us then that no great white shark had ever been successfully kept in captivity. Their demise was due not to disease or lack of food or the neglect of their custodians, but a great withering of spirit. For all its formidable bearing, defiant disposition and fierce and singular nature, when the great white shark is removed from the freedom of the open sea it is deprived of an ingredient so vital to its being that there occurs within it a spiritual death which the flesh is helpless but to follow. Despite all efforts, there has never been an exception.
We came across an elephant once that had been spared during a cull; it had chains on its legs. It knew sunshine and rain, green trees, mud holes and the company of other elephants, and yet it was but a shadow of an elephant. It was possessed of a great weariness and its grey, heavy skin hung as a parchment on its gaunt frame. Its melancholy was so tangible that we could not come before it, or think of it, without sadness, for it was quite plain that without freedom its spirit had withered to a point where it longed for death.
We have met, too, men and women who have lived by their own rules in the wild places of this earth. In the face of hardship and adversity, the only defeat we have seen them suffer is the curtailment of their freedom by advancing civilisation and conformity.
One day we will have driven back all the frontiers of this earth, and with it all the wild creatures that lived within the freedoms that they offered. Perhaps only then will we realise that the victory of progress will be as nothing, for you cannot conquer what you have killed.
It is therefore to the great white shark and all creatures, both man and beast, to whom a wild freedom is as necessary as the air they breathe, that this book is dedicated.
We don’t need to be wild camping in Yosemite National Park to get our nature fix. Digging worms at the bottom of your garden can be as effective as a Big 5 game drive in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
You just need to get outside. Sit on the grass. Lean against a tree. Lie on the sand at the beach.
Find your nature today, take 10 minutes and get into nature.