The Outside Life
Like many of you, my world has become increasingly internal over the past several winter months. Now, the sun is starting to peek out in unexpected ways and revealing the earth in little hints of what is to come. I’ve been thinking about my connection to the world outside my home and finally picked up a copy of Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. The Half Price Books purchase was spurred on by a discussion in one of my ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) classes we had about children and nature. It is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, and at one point, even picked up from the library. But I have issues with getting through non-fiction fast enough to avoid accruing fines from the library, so returned to book without even more than a skinny dip in chapter one.
This am, as I sat contemplating the books contents in the hotel lobby we are staying at (we are on our way to St. Louis on a combined spring break/family visit/college scoping trip), there was the ever ubiquitous television set that seems to accompany all interior waiting-type spaces, humming along to break the monotony. It makes me think of being at my parent’s house, where at any point there can be up to three or four televisions running in the household at one time, depending on how many of us grown children are staying in the house. I thought about how this interiority in our lives affects us.
In the hotel breakfast area, there were no windows. Granted, the Days Inn we stayed at was not their showcase venue – the rates were cheap and they offered ‘hot’ breakfast – you know, make your own waffles and a toaster. I realized I had my back to the nearest outdoor view, which was the lobby entry door and its flanking windows, so had no concept of the world outside. Thankfully we have things like televisions that are left on the weather channel to let to rescue us from this interior-induced oblivion.
The way I was “dining” is in strict contrast to how I start my mornings at home. I enjoy eating my breakfast in our dining room, where we have three large windows that let light spill inside. Oftentimes, I won’t even turn lights on in the morning, preferring the subtleties of the shifting suns rays at it ascends into the sky and lights up our interior world. Even though our view is compromised by the “squirrel highway”, aka fence, separating our house from our neighbor and her house is only a mere 15 feet away from our own, I can still hear and see wildlife out the window and get a sense of the seasons. Like when snow is gently floating down in “snow globe” mode. One of my favorite natural phenomena to watch. It is mesmerizing, captivating.
Which brings me back to thinking. My family loves the outdoors. I feel most alive when we are outside in the world, experiencing it. When we are out camping, we don’t think twice about doing things like making dinner, eating, or playing outside. We just gear up and do it. Regardless of weather. What do we need to do, internally in our minds, to accomplish the mental shift necessary to do the same when at home? What is stopping us? Why can’t we eat breakfast outside? Perhaps not every day, but maybe aim for once a week? What would that look like? I have to carry the breakfast paraphernalia to the dining room anyway, maybe I should finally break down and find myself one of those low lip wooden crates that I can use to load up our breakfast accoutrements, like a waiter, and walk the few extra steps so we can enjoy a part of our morning outside. We can leave our internal world behind and breathe in the outside world around us. A small moment of peace at the beginning of the day. At least, until my toddler upsets her cup and spills her juice all over herself. Ok, maybe not peace, but the setting would certainly put my day off to a good start.
How do you incorporate nature into your day?