Greenspace makes for great headspace
The natural world has always been my fall-back position. Whenever life got too busy, scary or stressful or even when it was at its most fulfilling, I seemed to want, in fact to need, to find some green space to process it all, for a while.
As a kid, living in the suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area, the only thing we really had approaching any kind of wilderness were the hydro fields; those huge swaths of whispering grasslands sitting invitingly beneath the ominous hum of the electrical wires. God only knows what that electro-magnetic drenching did to my DNA, but being there, sitting in or walking through the grass, always calmed me, gave me a little more perspective, plugged me in and recharged me. As I grew up, I seemed to migrate further and further from the city, following the flight of wild spaces, happily paying the price of a substantial commute if it allowed me to live within sight of fields, forests and unblemished sky.
A connection to the natural world, I am convinced, is vital to our well-being. Both individually and globally. I worry that, as a species of chronic screen watchers, we have developed an unhealthy myopia. If our day’s only brush with nature is a YouTube video of a waterfall or a sunset on our phones, then I think we may have a problem.
It is imperative, especially at this time of the year, that we all find a way to plug into the natural world for even just a little bit of time, every day. A visit to a forest, a stroll by a frozen lake, a walk down a tree-lined street. Sometimes, at the end of a particularly busy, screen-filled day, I will simply put my coat on and stand out on the back deck, watching my frozen breath floating up into the star-filled night sky for a while. It all helps. And you can feel it; the well-being is tangible. When you avail yourself of nature, you will always be rewarded in some way.
John Muir, the famed Naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, said "Every natural object is a conductor of divinity." There is an enormous amount of very important truth in that statement. Especially given that we are creatures that run on a spiritual battery…we are powered by the divine.
This post was taken from Neil's award-winning weekly humour column Enter Laughing, which appears in community newspapers throughout southeastern Ontario.