Recently, a few people asked why I stopped writing my blogs. Not about politics (Lord knows I have way too much fun with that topic), yet more about the things that are very dear to me in my life pursuits, both personally and professionally. So here we go…
It has come to my attention that the number of people suffering from newly named symptoms like ADHD, or the increased numbers of those ailing from historically known issues, such as anxiety, are jumping by leaps and bounds. Why did we have no “ADHD” when I was a kid, and why have our kids developed a high degree of anxiety in such numbers today? What has fueled the rise of the numbers afflicted, to become such serious issues in homes and workplaces?
My answer : disconnecting from nature.
I don’t know a soul who doesn’t love the feeling of the sun on their skin, or that of water cooling their bodies on a hot summer day. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love the smell of fresh cut grass or that of a forest after a little sprinkle. Actually, allow me to correct myself. I do know some people just like that, in fact I know more than a few. They have developed very acute reactions to being in nature at all, and I believe its because of that disconnect that these aforementioned issues are becoming pervasive and so challenging to younger generations than me.
We have before us a generation that doesn’t get “out there” any more. They hide inside, in front of a screen, and become ever so much more fragile with each passing moment of their disconnect. Then they search for remedies and their friendly doctor is all too happy to prescribe the very pills that will get him or her that loyalty point vacation from the pharma companies. Yes, I know that’s not legal anymore, but please give me a break, for every rule there is a loophole found. And so I can only speak from my own experience that whenever I used to feel anxious, there was nothing like walking my dogs, paddling in the kayak in the lake before my house or simply sitting on a park bench hearing and watching the squirrel fights rustle the branches overhead, in their fast pursuit of whatever, to bring me back to my centre.
If you really want to help people who feel anxious, don’t ask them “what’s wrong” continuously until they come to believe there must be something wrong that they haven’t thought of yet…get them out there. Get them into nature. Walk amongst the trees, dance in the lake, stream or ocean with nothing between your body and that of the water. Start even by a simple drive amongst the mountains. There is no shortage of G-d-given planet here for us to help us connect back again. Put your feet on the rocks by the lake’s or ocean edge with no sandals, rather than preventing feet from touching the ground, lest one “catch” something. That is the problem…some are always afraid they are going to catch something! I remember when we had no sterilizer lotion, when getting dirty was part of being a kid (and those who know me understand that I’m simply a kid in an older body). And if you want to help someone who has been diagnosed with attention issues, get them out there to use up that energy in better ways than a screen and keyboard. See what happens to them after a few hours of “tree therapy”. I am no doctor, yet I would bet on a certain outcome. It may take more than one try. At first the power of the disconnect may be so strong that they have a visceral reaction to not being near a screen or protected. Yet with time, I truly believe you will see an incredible increase in calmness amongst the nature you wish to re-introduce them to.
I can absolutely tell you that without one single ounce of doubt, if I was a kid today, they’d try to have me on pills. In my time, they called it “ants in your pants”. I could not sit still. I was the guy who wanted to be first in everything. I’d finish the exam, sit on the corner of my seat and wait for the teacher to signal it was time to hand in the exam. I was the “bavard” (the one who speaks) who couldn’t shut up. As hard as it may be for some of my close friends and family to believe that, believe me, its true (sic). It would’ve taken all but five minutes for some guidance counselor to say those three or four letter catchall symptom names with the Ritalin prescription suggestion not far behind. And there would have started a circular dependency on symptomatic relief, rather than addressing the root causes. Yet lucky for me, when I got home from school, it was snack and then out there again, in nature. From tag to capture the flag to whatever other game we made up, we were with nature. By the time supper was ready, I was ready for supper, a bath and sleep. Parents today are so tired from their work days that they don’t realize the damage done by using a screen as a sitter for their kids. OK, you are tired. Just go sit in a park with them. Won’t take much energy and maybe you too will rebalance and refresh. I’m not saying you need to go on the monkey bars or jump out of a plane (I’m doing that again by the way). I’m just saying lead by example even when it may be tempting not to.
Be with nature. Dance in the rain, you’re not made of chocolate. Splash in the lake. Just sit and revel in the warm sun. Touch or smell the leaf of a tree. I can promise you a journey to your centre will ensue, and the miracles that will happen when you feel centered and at peace…well, those are for you to discover. I’m creating mine. You create yours. They are all beautiful.
PS. The picture above was taken when I was driving up a hill in Montreal. I went over the top, and suddenly the beautiful sunset appeared before me. It was like I was looking inside myself. I felt its energy. Strong yet soothing. Beautiful and enriching at the same time. I could not help but immediately park the car and snap the shot. Notice that there is not a single straight line, nor a perfect curve, yet I dare you not to call it “picture perfect”.