In his book ‘Last Child in the Woods’ author Richard Louv described a phenomenon he called nature deficit disorder in which he discussed the disconnection between children and nature.
But does this only apply to children or all of us who are leading busy hectic lives? Can spending less time outdoors leave us feeling less grounded, less calm and more importantly less connected?
When I gave this idea more thought it was like a light bulb went off. For me, connection and meaning in life is not a single sided coin where we derive it solely from one thing, but from many things, such as family and friends, community, creativity, spirituality and nature, all of which add to a deeper sense of wholeness. Connection is universally important, and is focused not so much on ‘doing’ but simply ‘being’. Those moments in life where we lay on the earth looking up at the blue sky, when the stars are awash with majesty on a cold winter night, or swimming in the fresh ocean can be likened more to a feeling of peace and connection with the world, and to ourselves and the unique experience of being here.
Of course this got me thinking and left me with that ubiquitous anxiety that once again I am not getting things right in my life that real connection is becoming a distant dream, not a reality. As this low grade inner chatter was simmering in my head, I had a chance to spend the weekend in the Blue Mountains with my sister and family, where the highlight was a stint in the veggie patch, staking and trimming tomatoes, de-snailing strawberries and trimming the herbs in the fashionably raised corrugated iron garden bed. We (adults and kids) were excitedly calling out to each other with every find of yet another giant potato in the garden, or an undiscovered patch of zucchinis hidden under the oversized leaves.
This simple experience did not involve a planned camping trip to a national park, or an overseas adventure in the Andes, but a few humble moments when we are able to connect with nature and the people around us.. So of course it made me realise that I need to factor more of these little outdoorsy adventures into my weekly life, it’s free, accessible and rewarding.
Does anyone else feel that nature adds to their sense of connection and wholeness in life?