Monday, November 19, 2012

We Need Wild Places

Why should you get mud on your feet?  It’s dirty stuff after all.  And you’ll just have to wash it off. 

Better to stay on the sidewalk.  Maybe even the couch.

Or is it?  

You can probably guess my answer.  Get dirty.  Roll in the muck and the mire of life and wipe it all over your kids and your spouse and your friends.  Drag it inside.  Leave bits of it on the wood floor.  Throw open your doors and windows and let it pour in.

Because if you don’t, you’re missing things.  Things that matter.  Things that make your body stronger.  Things that make your spirit fly.  Things that can change your life from a ho-hum slog on the treadmill of mediocrity to a serious adventure worth living.  It’s true.

We need mud.  We need the fruits, flowers and forests that grow in it.  Whether we realize it or not, our minds and bodies—our very souls—depend on all the wild and living things that spring from dirt. 

In his book Biophilia, one of my all-time heroes, Edward O. Wilson, Ph.D., wrote that “To explore and affiliate with life is a deep and complicated process in mental development.  To an extent still undervalued in philosophy and religion, our existence depends on this propensity, our spirit is woven from it, hope rises on its currents.” 

The same line of thought is stated more matter-of-factly by Peter H. Kahn, Jr., Ph.D. when he writes, “For tens and even hundreds of thousands of years, we as a species came of age through daily and intimate connection with the natural world.  That propensity and need to connect—deeply and intimately—with nature is with us still.”

So get off the sidewalk.  Venture far from the couch!  Find some wild place, ramble into it, turn off the neurotic squabbling of your mind and just watch and listen and breathe. 

You’ll feel better when you get home.  Tired maybe, but better—deep down in your gut where it matters.  I promise.  So go outside.  Get mud on your feet!

(Need help finding a new place to get outside?  Check out this cool Where To Go tool by Discover the Forest)

J.S. Kapchinske’s middle grade novel, Coyote Summer, will be available for eBook readers early in 2013.  Stay tuned.