Penned over a century ago, John Muir’s words could not ring truer today. Constrained and restricted to our four walls and fence rows in this tumultuous pandemic, many of us are yearning for wide open spaces–away from people, but perhaps more fervently–away from our “nerve-shaken, over-civilized” lives.
The sentiment couldn’t come soon enough. While we drain ourselves into our televisions, smartphones, and media, our connection to the great American wilderness is disappearing. Award-winning author Richard Louv even coined the phrase “nature-deficit disorder” to describe the waning relationship America’s youth have with the outdoors and its negative effects on their behavior and health. Researchers have even found that people who live in neighborhoods with more trees are happier and healthier than those who live in barren, treeless areas.
So, why aren’t we doing more about it? The answer can be summed up by one phrase–“out of sight, out of mind.” The less we interact with nature, the less we think or care about it. After decades of bulldozing forests in the name of economic prosperity and progress, people are beginning to look around and realize what negative impact this has had on wildlife, our climate, and our well-being.
The Trillion Trees Initiative and the TREE Act of 2020 are both solutionary attempts by our legislators to plant more trees all over the world to foster a better future for our families and our planet. However, these actions mean very little if we don’t start disconnecting from our overstimulated, busy lives and step into the wild more often. We will find that wildness is, in fact, a necessity, as John Muir claims. It is a necessity to our lives as much as it is to our Earth. So, let’s take care of ourselves and our planet by spending more time in nature. Find a national park or forest near you, and embark on a journey for wildness.