Outdoors and alone with my thoughts

March 1, 2015

 

Being alone.  Being absent of manmade distractions.  Is this important?  Where can it happen? The perspective of the person asking the question is the key to unlocking the answers.

 

Some percent that is probably too great, calls home and work a place that is a bombardment of stimuli that is unnatural in the sense that it is not what our bodies are accustomed to in an evolutionary sense. Nor is it what our minds are equipped to assimilate.  I do not mean anything at all about a division between the under 30 crowd versus the over 30  crowd with regard to being adapted to technology.

 

By the standards of the way biology adapts over time it is unlikely we have begun to adapt to the realities of electricity and electric lighting.  The idea that younger peoples' bodies and psyches would be better adapted to bombardment of stimuli such as what we see today is highly doubtful.  

 

For thousands of years and much longer, human reality has hummed along in a vastly different way than it does today.  Hunters and gatherers or farmers spent vast amounts of time either in solitary activity or at least very quietly - by necessity.  What's more, because the Earth was simply far less densely populated, it was naturally the case that people were not forced to exist quite so much right on top of each other.  Some people say that urban areas are just not natural, and that seemingly is literally the truth.

 

So, what is one to do? I simply cannot function in a healthy manner on any level without replacing some of the time outdoors that would have come naturally up until the last 100 years or so.  It does not necessarily have to be much.  In fact, during the week, Monday through Friday, I typically am only able to get out an hour or so often as part of an exercise routine.  You might say you do not have time for that in your life.  But you do - it is just a matter of priorities.  What's more, if for example you feel some pangs of guilt if you are desiring to spend time by yourself for a short time without kids or spouses, the tradeoff is a potentially much better quality of life when you are back with them.

 

One of the new things that represents a threat to our times of solitiude in the outdoors is all the electronics and gadgets that are marketed to the outdoorsman. The idea of having a communication device outdoors is certainly a measure that can provide safety in a dangerous situation.  But, I constantly see tweets from guys and gals as the hunt, fish, hike, and camp.  What is going on there?

 

Does anyone really think it is necessary to provide blow-by-blow information as it happens in real time?  It seems to me that this kind of behavior displays an apparent sense of self importance that might be a little unwarranted.  There is a lot of "look at me" going on there.  Why not take a few pictures,or maybe some video, and then tell us about it after you get back. 

 

Our family spends a lot of time in the outdoors...either as family outings or as individuals.  It is so important for all of us.  Even when we are all "together," just as the natural rythm of the way things turn out when we head out, we get our times of solittude.  When we are deer hunting, heaven knows there are long hours sitting alone in a climbing tree stand. When we fish an Ozark or mountain West stream, we spread out and find our own little stretches of water and get back together every so often.  When we are camping and hiking, we have our own activities we head off to do and some we do together.  For all of these things, I cannot imagine a better time than sitting around a campfire at the end of a long day - dead tired - talking about the day, and inevitably circling around to talking about how iinvaluable these times are for all of us in coping with the daily routines of crazy lives.

 

I won't feel right about ending this until I make a short case for how important preservation of public land is for the general good of all.  Even if you are not entirely on board with the importance of what I describe here for you, perhaps to some degree it makes sense to you that it is almost life-or-death for some of us.  Much of the outdoor activities done by folks is done on public land of some kind.  Perhaps it is a neighborhood park, or it could be something like Missouri's incredible Kaity Trail system, it could be state land, or it could be federal land.  This land is NOT unproductive.  Land that is designated as wilderness is not failing to fulfill it's potential.  Not all potential is directly measurable in dollars and cents.  Even if you are at the extreme of not caring to what extent this kind of land preserves the environment, it may be helpful to know that for many, having it available allows those who utilize it for hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking to come back to our regular lives far better able to be productive and pleasant to be around.

 

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