I grew up and lived in big cities and for most of my life I have thought that I’m well adapted to the urban life. As a child I was lucky enough to have parents that would regularly bring me close to nature. Our trips to a forest or a mountain were without doubt the happiest memories of my early childhood. Unfortunately, when I got older, I started to spend less and less time outdoors. I had less free time and more responsibilities, but I think was more a matter of misplaced priorities. Over time I ended up completely forgetting how enjoyable moments far away from the city can be. Without realizing I started to act as if going in the city parks is what being in nature is…
Later in my life, a set of events that should be the subject of another article, brought me close to the forest once again. I started this journey of re-connection with nature in my mid twenties and I couldn’t ignore the benefits it brought me. My personal life started to improve on every level : from my physical and mental health to my personality and creativity. In reconnecting with nature I was actually reconnecting with myself and with many facets of my personality that got lost over the years. We can talk a lot about the personal benefits of having a regular relationship with the natural world, and there are plenty of studies who have looked upon this subject from different angles.
I’d like to put this is a bigger perspective. Most of us have forgotten that we lived and evolved together with nature over millions of years. Most of us have forgotten that a forest is much more than a bunch of trees, it was our home and we shared it with countless other species. From the roots of the trees to their tops, a healthy forest is a place teeming of life and in a forest we get to observe the beauty and complexity that an ecosystem can create. When a person gets to be a part of this reality, many of their opinions, perspectives, political views and behaviors can change. Those who understand that we are a part of nature are much more likely to care about its future. People who spend a lot of time in forests aremore likely to act when they find out that forests on the other side of the Earth are being destroyed.
And that is why reconnecting with nature has far reaching consequences for our society. When most people have never been in any contact with the natural world, it is likely to expect that they won’t care enough to do something about its destruction. I am not saying that only tree huggers can care about the future of the planet. People who know nothing else, but the concrete prison that they were born in are understandably much less likely to feel the appropriate cognitive and emotional response when they face information about the dire situation of our planets health.
My advice is simple : be in nature. When you choose to spend time in nature this also affects the people around you. Help your family and friends also find this connection, maybe you’re the only person in their lives in the position to remind them of the outdoors. Nature certainly needs more humans who remember that they are a part of it.
And of course, when you go in a forest or in any natural environment, please do your best to be as respectful as you can to all the living beings that you will encounter, no matter how small.