I'm listening to the news today, and we had this gem from Mashable... "do national parks need wi-fi to stay relevant?" SMH. Oh so many things wrong with this idea. Maybe instead of injecting more and more connectivity to avoid "complaints from the teens", we should ask ourselves, what is the value in being disconnected?
A few weeks back I was sitting at the LA Athletic Club for a Women in Green breakfast listening to Kris Tompkins. She's the former CEO of Patagonia who built what is probably the most eco company up from scratch with Yvon Chouinard (Patagucci comments are welcome!). And since leaving Patagonia the company, she's spent almost all her time in Patagonia the region of Chile, buying land parcel by parcel to turn into national parks. It's a practice that has been controversial to some, but no one can deny the massive impact she's had in conserving land.
Kris said something else that stuck with me and identifies why I'm so passionate for our planet. Basically, getting your butt kicked by nature is a very important, if not THE most important, experience that leads you to care for our planet. Ohmygoodness....YES! She encouraged us all to embrace the bugbites, rain, cold, windiness and unpredictability of nature because it reminds us where we peeps really stand. We're just one species on this giant Noah's Ark called Earth, and the sooner we behave that way, the better for all. So if you haven't gotten your butt kicked by nature recently, get out there! Go in the ocean, on a hike, camp in your tent...next time you're traveling, pick a more nature-driven destination. Go forth the way Thoreau intended!
You see, I spent an entire summer in a conservation park in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa getting my butt (and legs, and arms) royally kicked by nature in a way that cannot be forgotten. By rhino-sized ticks kind of nature. By charismatic megafauna NATURE. I pretty much spent 8 weeks of my life doing this....
What matters most is how thoroughly my mindmap realigned to recognize that we have not conquered nature at all, really. In cities, suburbs and towns alike we are all insulated from nature. Our society is built around insulating us literally and figuratively from the planet. But it builds a really tenuous, false perception on our connection to nature. Because in reality we are extremely tied to the fate of our planet. And listening in that breakfast last month it finally crystallized, how important that recognition is and how core it is to my caring so deeply about our future on this planet. And when it comes to nature deficit disorder...what we're talking about it a lack of that bone-deep understanding in peeps who don't spend enough time in nature.
For me, I got chased on the daily away from getting research done by herds of elephants (who are extremely silent by the way, fun factoid). One time we left only the screen door shut in camp and came back to all of our eggs broken by baboons. I saw every kind of most poisonous snake....a green mamba in the tree 2 feet over from where I stood, a puff adder, and a black mamba crossing the road. I got run up a tree from a black rhino (inquisitive little critically endangered suckers, I'll say!) I saw the massive amount of effort it took to capture a rhino to transfer between parks (twice).
But I took away so much more, and for that I'm so grateful. My perspective indelibly shifted to the side of nature, and that's what I wish for you. My hope after reading this is you are inspired to take that hike you've been meaning to. To book a campground for the weekend now or next summer. Here in LA it could mean a drive along the coast, park it far away from cars, and commune with the ocean (it's cold, so I won't urge you to go in without a wetsuit!)
And when the mosquitoes bite, or you shiver a bit more than you'd like....embrace it. Nature is awe-inspiring, beautiful and powerful. It can kick your butt anytime it likes, and we'd do well to remember that.
If you like your broccoli with cheese, and your medicine with candy, here's the "Mother Nature" video by Conservation International in their Nature is Speaking series....Julia Roberts nails it way better than my blog....don't you think?