I feel like not enough people go outside. I mean I know I don’t go outside enough, despite the fact that I’m writing this in the meadow during my lunch break. Seriously, we get cooped up inside our living spaces that we forget that there’s a beautiful world right outside our doors. Sure, some people live in the industrial bedrocks of society, and if they go outside they are lucky to see trees at all, but most of use have access to parks and what not. Yet we still stay inside. Why is that?
My first hypothesis for why people stay inside is because it feels safe. We are innately programed for survival. It makes sense that we would want to stay safe by hiding inside something that is, essentially, impenetrable to dangerous animals. It also secures us with clean(er) air. I live in the L.A. area, which is known for being mediocre in terms of air quality. Certainly there have been strides forward, but we still have quite a ways to go before we are actually healthy.
Still, I would think that, with the lack of vitamin D absorbed from the sunlight, people would venture outside more. Not enough people go on walks anymore. I was out on a run yesterday, in the unexpected rain that we California’s have no idea how to cope with, and I saw an older couple walking with their dog. They were just chatting, bundled up appropriately for the weather, and enjoying their free time together. Why don’t more people do that? I think it’s because we have become anti-social with our segregated housing. We are pressured to be independent beings, which pressures us to have individual houses with individual rooms. Sure, privacy is important, but if we justify locking ourselves away with that, then we end up accepting our hideaways as a social norm. That’s not good.
Isolation leads to depression. Which is, simply put, bad. Our brains are wired for social interactions—we like to work together. But we have tricked ourselves into being separated. Which is simple and understandable when we live in a world that rewards us for our individuality. Maybe it’s just a romantic concept, but I think we should be excited to go out and talk to people. It’s an opportunity to make new, valuable connections. Which is ironic, since I often seclude myself due to my stringent requirements in life. I have no doubt it is harder to do in practice. I know the group I am currently next to, who have been chatting non stop about “girls” and “being that guy,” are a bit intimidating. They get along so well, and I am just awkward. Yet it is important to be willing to rise up and face these challenges. And it starts with going outside.
So take a walk, read in a park, take a nap on a bench. Eat outside at a restaurant. There’s a beautiful world at your fingertips. And even if it isn’t right in front of you, you can go find it. Or better yet, you can make it.