Where do we go from here?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Nature Deficit Disorder

Following is the text of a post that I wrote a year and a half ago, saved as a draft and just out of curiosity opened to read this morning. Yes, there are drafts from that long ago hanging around on my computer; I'm afraid it's true. Anyway, since I wrote this draft, many moons have come and gone, and this past summer was spent almost entirely outdoors in my gardens. It was the healthiest and happiest I've felt in a very long time. Ironically enough, now that summer has faded into deep autumn, the mornings stay dark and cold for entirely too long, and I'm back in the classroom much of the time, or preparing for time in front of my classes, I once again feel I'm experiencing Nature Deficit Disorder. I seriously miss getting out into the yard as soon as light breaks over the mountains, and staying there until the sun sinks behind the volcanos. My little beds of cool weather crops are growing apace, and this morning I thinned out the lettuce, chard and spinach, going to use the thinned-out babies in tonight's salad. There's lots of garden cleanup that needs doing before it gets much colder, and we made a start on it this past weekend. We've had some good hikes in the bright gold October weather, and hopefully will be able to continue to get some more in before the short afternoons grow shorter and colder. I need to do everything in my power to evade a winter of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and/or the lesser-known NDD (Nature Deficit Disorder)

Written in March of 2008
There is now a "social trend" called Nature Deficit Disorder, which so far is only associated with children.The term describes the human costs of alienation from nature, among them diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional illness, The term was coined by author Richard Louv, in his book Last Child in the Woods. According to Louv, our children's lack of connection to nature is causing what amounts to an epidemic of overweight depressed kids with high rates of attention disorders. I'm so far past childhood that I'll soon be eligible for Medicare, but as soon as I read about this disorder, I recognized it as exactly the condition in which I've been living far too long. The book is one I've been meaning to read, as a person blessed with quite a few young children in my life; but I realized as I read about NDD that just about the only time I myself venture very far into nature is when kids are visiting. That's when we hike in the mountains, go to the Biopark, bird along the river at the Rio Grande Nature Center.

The rest of the time I'm like the kids in Louv's book, cooped up in the artificial lights and indoor air of a classroom, or in my home office in front of the computer, not, in my case, playing video games, but reading and writing, ironically, about the environment. I have been reading so much about gloom and doom lately that I fear I am also suffering from yet another twenty-first century disorder: Eco-anxiety.

And so, it seems to me that it's time to get out of this chair, away from this computer, and experience more of "the environment" than the view of trees and birdfeeders, tops of mountains, cloudscapes, that lies outside the office window. It's fully spring here, some days even feels like we're already moving into summer.

No comments: