Time to reconnect

Published Monday, June 11, 2012 in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal.

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love,” Senegalese environmentalist Baba Dioum said in a speech in 1968.  It’s a bit of truth that remains valid today: we naturally protect and preserve whatever means most to us.

So perhaps a prerequisite for conserving the planet that sustains us is for us to fall in love with it again.

When it comes to protecting, preserving and conserving our home planet, a neutral observer might be inclined not to give humanity a very good grade.  We are the one species blessed with an ability to look and plan into the future, yet we seem to be intent upon living as if there were no tomorrow.  We have an unparalleled capacity for reasoning and logical analysis, yet we seem to be able to conveniently ignore compelling evidence that warns of huge trouble ahead if we keep doing what we’re doing.

It would seem that the advances of our modern society have enabled us to become so disengaged from our planet that we no longer recognize our inherent connection to it. 

Food?  That comes from the supermarket.  Water?  A tap or a bottle.  Air?  Duh.  Conserving the environment?  Quaint – but please don’t bother me while I’m busy. 

You could say we’ve fallen out of love with our planet – and perhaps that helps explain why we treat it as we do.

Time for a date
So maybe it’s time to reconnect with planet Earth and its wonders, and to fall in love again.  And the best way to start any romance is by going on a date – in this case, with nature.  In a province (and nation) such as ours where nature abounds, there’s plenty to choose from.  It doesn’t have to be complicated; you can:

  • Use your lunch break to go for a stroll in a park
  • Plant a flower or vegetable garden, and spend some time watching the miraculous transformation of your plants as they grow
  • Hop on a bike and explore some of NB’s great trails
  • Go for a walk or run outside instead of on a treadmill
  • Sit in your backyard and just listen to the birds

Or you can take things a step further by camping out in one of our province’s many wonderful parks.  (To get the full nature experience, it’s best to leave the generator and loud music behind.)  As unbelievable as it may seem, there is an actual diagnosis called nature deficit disorder – so be sure to take the kids as they especially need these experiences.

Benefits and incentives
If you do manage to break away for a date with nature, you might be pleasantly surprised by the benefits you feel.  Not just a better appreciation for the natural beauty of the earth, but more energy and less stress; warm fuzzy feelings that will leave you wanting to go on another date – and another and another.

I can attest to that.  Just last week, I was able to slip away with some friends for a relaxing three day paddle down a jewel of a waterway, the Nepisiguit River.  No email, no phone, no noise – just trees and sky, moose and loons.  Very therapeutic, and the next date is already being planned.

Here’s another reason to make a date with nature: the David Suzuki Foundation’s “30 x 30 Challenge”, which invites people to spend 30 minutes with nature for 30 days, and offers nice prizes as incentives.  Learn more at www.tinyurl.com/30x30Challenge.

Make a date
Baba Dioum said, “We will conserve only what we love,” and continued, “We will love only what we understand.”

One of the best ways to understand the wonders of this planet is to make a date, with nature.  So take some time today and every day – and fall in love all over.