Nature Principle.I was recently reminded of a memory from my childhood. Some good family friends had taken me mini-golfing with their grandma. It was a gorgeous day outside; some might say it was the perfect weather for golfing. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, I was more interested in the grasshoppers than I was in following a golf ball around the artificial turf. I remember my friend’s slightly annoyed grandmother having a conversation with my parents about what a “daydreamer” I was.
Perhaps author Richard Louv would argue that my early interest in entomology was a good thing.
In his best-seller Last Child in the Woods - Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, Louv makes a strong case for children to get outside – and not just for organized sports and activities either. Louv compiles facts and studies and makes the argument that what many children are missing in their childhood today is the simple opportunity to go outside and have free, unstructured play.
Free, unstructured play could be building a stick hut, discovering swamp creatures, finding a special hiding place, climbing trees, playing in the mud and getting your hands dirty…and making mysterious mud creatures while you're at it too. What unstructured play does, among other things, is allows for problem solving and engagement with the imagination.
Yes, as a society in general when we think of dirt we think of germs, and we live in a world where it seems we have to protect ourselves from everything, especially when it comes to the outdoors. If you think of the typical arsenal of sunblock and bug spray that many people use just to go for a walk outside, it seems like we always have to arm ourselves from nature.
Yet in his most recent work, The Nature Principle - Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age, Louv makes a strong case for adults to do the same as kids, and to get outside just for the case of being outside in nature…to get some fresh air, to give yourself the time and space to focus on the little details around you (again I think of those grasshoppers and how they crawled on the turf and how infinately more fascinating they were than golf was), to connect with other species, as well as an inner sense of peace. This is what Louv ultimately boils down to something he calls “Vitamin N,” something he argues we can all benefit from.
And the weather is getting warmer. And Turdus migratorius, our American robins, are officially here. So the question is: have you been outside today?