Having come up with the idea to have an entire day based on ruthlessly mocking and shaming something we dislike, I don’t think there’s any question by this point that I’m a relatively cynical person with a bleak outlook on life.
Even so, there are certain things which I am pretty upbeat about.
Not much, mind you, but still enough to for me to get through at least a couple more rounds of “Fame Day.”
Of the handful of things that get my dusty, cobwebbed stamp of approval (certain kinds of noodle soup, most alcoholic beverages, tobacco, satirical cartoons, heavy metal, etc.), there’s one thing especially near-and-dear to me:
That might be a bit surprising, but when you take into account that the great outdoors vastly increases the distance between myself and my fellow man, it’ll all fit together. But bitter misanthrope that I am, I really and truly do enjoy nature just as it is. Fresh air, unexplored territory (hiking trails are for wimps), the panoramas- it’s all just, well, liberating. Perhaps the thing I miss most about my college is the fact that on every side of me were rolling hills and tangled forests, as far as the eye could see. At least once a week, I and Evan would be trekking through the woods or sliding across ice floes when the river froze over (mostly, anyways).
The fact that I enjoy nature so much makes it’s absence all the more palpable- and that is the subject of today’s Shame Day.
Look, chances are, you spend at least eight hours of your time awake cooped up in some office, or serving wealthy snobs, or performing some mind-numbing, back-breaking labor.
The time that you don’t spend there is time you spend getting to and from your place of employment, and time you don’t spend there is used to perform the basic tasks of living. You’re ultimately left with a couple hours in the late evening to use for what little leisure you can afford- chances are, you’re not going to spend them sitting in a park after sundown.
Quite simply, what time you spend in the great outdoors is limited to what little time you have just being outdoors (shopping, commuting, etc.), and with most of us being in some kind of urban environment, there’s precious little in the way of trees, mountains, and amber waves of grain.
Look, I don’t need to tell you that being in nature is healthy for you (barring the people with allergies, but come on). Psychological paper after paper has been published supporting the common sense notion that whittling away your existence in a concrete box isn’t the best thing for the body or soul.
Now while I’d suggest glorious revolution in which the need to create hellish urban centers to maximize production and consumption is done away with…
…I’d be willing to settle for a compromise (for now anyways).
Is it too much to ask for to cut out a swath of any urban area and just let it go? I’m not looking for some quaint, domesticated, neatly trimmed lawns and hedges- I want some actual wilderness that’s accessible to everyone. I’m not unaware that such places would doubtlessly become a haven for stray dogs and meth addicts, but seeing as how we have those anyways, throwing in some native trees and shrubs seems like it’d alleviate the problem at the very least. Or how about some rooftop gardens? Or more slanted building-to-open space ratio when it comes to zoning? At this point, I’d be willing to settle for some more potted plants. And what about kids? We have all these cheesy, preachy PSAs about kids playing outside. Where exactly are they supposed to be? Yeah, running around and climbing trees is good for ya, but where on earth are you supposed to do that- especially in a rougher part of town?
I’m not looking to actually debate the pros and cons of any of those suggestions- they’re really only there to drive the point home that this– this whole concrete jungle thing- sucks. We are not meant to live this way. It’s maddening.
The mountains, the beach, the woods, the lakes- these things shouldn’t be the exclusive pleasures of the wealthy and whatever farmers Monsanto hasn’t yet crushed.
For the sake of our collective sanity and welbeing, can we get this fixed?