Come Outside

January 16th, 2014

web key west dock

I just read an article on the National Wildlife Federation website says that kids now spend an average of only 30 minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play and up to 7 hours in front of an electronic screen of some sort. It was a shocking statistic that I immediately realized applied to me as well. If I go outdoors, it’s to power walk, not to stroll or wander, and most of my day is spent in front of a computer or behind a Kindle. When I was a kid, especially before I became an obsessive voracious reader, I spent most of the summer outside playing or just hanging around. Adults really did not want us underfoot any more than we wanted to be there. On my grandparents’ farm, there was always something to do outside. I spent hours sitting on the fence with a stick and twine pretending I was fishing or watching the occasional car go by and never being bored. Now my mind is habituated to the constant stimulation of the internet, and the prospect of just sitting on the front steps or taking a stroll through my neighborhood makes me itch with impatience. Last weekend, I went for a beach walk with a friend on the island that’s just minutes over a bridge from my house. So easy to access and yet I rarely do. So beautiful once I’m there, and yet I’m always “too busy.”  Having the ocean and sky fill up my eyes was like a massage for my soul, a Sunday sermon for my senses. When I first moved to SC and lived on that island, my daughter and I shared a house with a friend and her son. As an introvert, it was hard for me to settle into being around so many people who were always there plus drop-in visitors, but looking back I remember lots of late afternoons on the screened-in porch drinking wine and eating cheese and crackers and just talking, not doing. Or weekends on the beach soaking up the now-forbidden sun. As crazy as it seems to me now, I didn’t have email to check obsessively or phone games to play or urgent text messages to send. There was a lot of time to simply waste, or to waste in a simple way. I’m a victim of the thinking that we must always be accomplishing something, justifying our existence, not letting a minute of our precious time on earth go by without making it memorable or making a mark. As if our resumes must be constantly updated and bucket lists notated in order to reassure us that we matter.  I hope I will always want to create or make something or leave room for a passion to be explored, but I hope I can also remember that instead of my constant to-doing I need to take time just to rest in the arms of the world.

One Response to “Come Outside”

  1. Kristin says:

    Love the pic and the thoughts!

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