Recently, on of my friends asked why I loved being outside so much.
Why wouldn’t I like being outside? How could I not want to spend every moment soaking up the great outdoors?
I grew up camping, hiking, building forts and tree houses in my backyard. My young adult summers were filled with days at the beach, and backyard camping. Even now, I often find projects that I can only do outside– as I write this I am sitting in the park next to my apartment complex.
We could argue that when you love the outdoors it is because of the way you’ve been raised, and if you grow up outside you will always love to be outside. Or, we could raise the question of the Biophilia hypothesis, the connection between human beings and other living systems. In his book, Biophilia (1984), Edward O. Wilson the love of living systems that human have. Without realizing it, humans have a connection with other living things in nature, and nature itself. Wilson outlines Biophilia as the “urge to affiliate with other forms of life.” This hypothesis clearly defines why we love living outside and the urge we have to pursue nature.
It all makes sense! Alas, I have an explanation of why I love to be outside. The human relationship with nature was finally defined. As I researched and learned more about Biophilia, I learned more about my own connection with nature. I came to believe that every person needs a connection to nature. That was, until I presented this research to one of my classes.
I was challenged by one of my peers after I finished presenting my research, and welcomed her theory to this hypothesis. She explained how she grew up playing outside occasionally but felt more of a connection with inside things like her bed, electronics, and other material possessions. She explained how she couldn’t understand how people willingly camped, hiked or spent time outside for an extended period of time without being forced. She even explained how she had tried to experience an outside life and ventured on several outdoor pursuits, hoping she would soon experience the same tranquility in nature as others do. Finding comfort inside, she explained she didn’t think she could ever experience happiness like she did when she was indoors.
Dumbfounded by my peer’s explanation, I wasn’t sure how to respond. Here I had figured I found the explanation to why we humans love nature—but maybe not all humans have the need to be immersed in nature. In a world where we have access to so many other distractions we forget about the beauty right outside our doorstep. I felt a sad for my classmate and I wished she had been exposed to the beautiful musings of nature that I have throughout my life.
For me, the feeling of being so small a top a mountain and sounds of nature cannot be replaced by the hum of music through a laptop or the sound of a text message notification. I would trade the comfort of my bed for the raw sounds of nature heard through a sleeping bag any day.
Sparked by the words of my classmate, I’ve been inspired to share my outside experiences with others. An outside life should not be something that is replaced by today’s latest gadgets or forgotten by worldly distractions. Earthly experiences become a part of who we are and how we grow.
Take time to smell the flowers. Listen to the music that your outside life sings. And ask yourself, why do I like to be outside?