Nature-deficit Disorder

pastel painting of Texas creek by Lynn BridgeGreen Creek

Today, for a very few minutes, I’m going to do my part to save the world from possible insanity.  I have been reading a book given to me by my friend on the occasion of my birthday.  It is called Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.   I am not even halfway through the book, but in the ‘landscape’ of the book, I can at least describe the foreground for you.

The premise, backed up by research from several disciplines, is that, for the first time EVER, most people, including ones in ‘underdeveloped’ countries, are spending most of their lives indoors, instead of outdoors.  Children no longer grow up with an innate understanding of the immensity of nature, the workings of its denizens, or the place humans have in the scheme of things.

From their textbooks, educated children can track the effects of pollution on a snail darter, but cannot say the names or growth habits of any tree on the school grounds, nor the insects one is likely to find on the bark, the leaves, or the dead branches.

This separation from natural surroundings apparently has the effect of removing us psychologically from our foundations, and there is evidence that all kinds of problems of the mind and spirit ensue.  Some suspect that a lack of nature exposure is a big cause of enormous amounts of depression in children, not to mention, adults.

Scenes of nature indoors are less effective at calming stress than is real nature, but scenes of nature are more beneficial on stress levels than are other kinds of images.  So, for your viewing pleasure, and maybe your health, you now have a chance to rise from your seat, flex your muscles, and gaze upon today’s painting of a splashing creek in Texas’ Hill Country.  Enjoy, and get ‘real’!

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