Over Christmas, while I was in southern california visiting my parents, I read an article by Lisa Roberts on the Healing Power of Nature.
Nature is a cure-all for human physical and emotional ills, almost. It can “quite the mind, boost creativity and self-esteem, and lead to an acceptance of self and spiritual connection.” And of course, usually when you’re in nature, you’re going to move your body more, and exercise increases endorphins and general health.
“Researchers are just beginning to learn that people are greatly influenced by green.
Dr. Frances Kuo, director of the University of Illinois’ Human-Environment Research Laboratory, says studies in Chicago’s inner-city neighborhoods have suggested that even meager trees and grass can lessen violence and promote a feeling of safety and the formation of social ties.”
Other studies found that children with ADD got better after being in nature and that workers with a view of nature were less stressed and bored.
I think what got me thinking especially was the discussion of how nature-time influences children (camping trips, berry-picking, that kind of thing). We did a lot of that when I was a kid. We went out in an RV (my Dad worked for a RV company and he drove RVs home on the weekend), so okay okay it wasn’t “real” camping, but it got me out into nature. A lot.
But according to Richard Louy, “these free-rein childhoods recalled by … baby boomers [I’m just old enough to meet that qualification] are now more of an exception than a rule.” He refers to “Nature-Deficit Disorder.”
I hadn’t thought at all about what those nature-times were doing to my psyche. I would go out and wonder around and explore by myself. I loved doing that. I remember arriving for my first summer at a Girl Scout summer camp and I almost considered asking to go home when I found out that the counselors wouldn’t allow me to go off an explore by myself (that camp later became one of the best experiences of my life from age 14 to 19).
Anyway, this guy — Richard Louy — wrote a book on “nature-deficit disorder” and he says that nature “serves as a blank slate upon which a child draws and reinterprets the culture’s fantasies. Nature inspires creativity in a child by demanding visualization and the full use of the senses…. In nature, a child finds freedom, fantasy and privacy: a place distant from the adult world, a separate peace.”
Interesting. And I believe it. I did a lot of musing when I was out in nature by myself. It had to have helped me develop my sense of self. Interesting.
Now, is there some way to use this insight in the teaching of writing? We emphasize collaboration. Maybe we need to also emphasize solitary nature-surrounded musing/writing. Or ??