Out and About it

Bill McKibbon, the author of one of the first books on the subject of climate change, said that there is no pristine wilderness left. Scientifically, that may be true, but there are still opportunities to experience the solitude of true nature, and they may be closer than you think.

To explore the great outdoors, you do not have to trek the tallest mountain, hike 20 miles, camp with rodents or subsist off of dried fruits and turkey bacon. You need only step out your door. You are outside and that is what matters.

With the rise of technology, the millennial generation has exhibited a proportional decrease in activity levels. Why play in the dirt when a cute character simulation can play in the dirt for you? At least then mom won’t scold you for ruining her rugs with the dirty shoes you forgot to take off. Why go for a trail run when you can run on your treadmill in front of a screen that plays a “running through the woods," setting #2 in your temperature-controlled workout room. But let's be honest, with all the tv's tablets, and smart phones that seem to be getting larger, thinner, and easier to break, we will not be doing much running at all. It's time to invest in a really big couch, because most likely, you will be spending the bulk of your life on it unless something changes soon.

As I walk through the hallway at work, my hourly trip to the bathroom to stretch my legs, I read a sign that I am almost sick of seeing already. "Beware. Sitting is the new smoking." I am sick of it because it is true, and there isn't much I can do about it. A coworker of mine has one of those standing up desks that let you, duh, stand while you work.  And honestly, I stare at her jealously all day long...which I can do because she works behind a big computer monitor and can't see me. I dream about how sore her feet must be and I crave her relief from poor lumbar support. (I am 23. Why am I concerned about lumbar support?) But with this invention as well as the Fitbit, Nike health tracking, and shame from grandmas who walked 5 miles to school every day, I think people are finally catching on. Laziness will never be close to godliness.

But I don't think it's enough to not be lazy. I'm taking a cue from John Muir. I'm going to climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Someday. For now, I'll just be outside. 

Outside is where the magic happens. Being outdoors, even looking at pictures of the outdoors is proven to be beneficial to your psychological state. It alleviates the strain on your eyes that are otherwise fixed to a pixelated screen. It reduces heart rates and clarifies lungs, pores, and mind. In this case, beauty does not lie within; it lies out there. We get caught up in our own lives so easily, but just one step out the door can realign your sense of place in this great, big world. When you see all the diversity around you, all the species that were here long before you, all the trees that will (hopefully) be here long after you are gone, the world is no longer a strange place. We are all a small part of it and, therefore, never alone in our struggles or triumphs. So get outside and get to living the way that nature intended. 

Kiersten UteggComment