Search the web for “mind body” and you’ll see tons of responses. I’m glad. With a tenured history professor as a father, I grew up favoring the mind. I can’t say the family neglected the body, but fitness, exercise, and diet came later for me, when I discovered them. I wish I’d appreciated and developed the body earlier—mine and that side of life.
Our society seems to recognize the value in not neglecting mind or body, though many parts appear out of balance. Many people will add spirit or soul. I won’t argue against including them, but I consider them part of mind.
I still believe there are three legs to that stool: mind, body, and nature. Leaving out our minds’ and bodies’ connection to nature seems to me like leaving our the connection between body and mind.
Neglecting any of them leaves us unstable and missing out. We evolved in nature, nothing like today’s world for nearly all of us. Our emotional system creates a wonderful, diverse range of emotions. Rarely do extraneous parts evolve in nature, so I conclude our ancestors would have felt all of them. All those feelings of wonder, love, beauty, connection, oneness, inspiration, and so on—our ancestors must have felt all of them.
If we don’t experience those emotions, I suspect it results from our environments lacking things our ancestral environments contained. I suspect we’re missing a lot of what made our ancestors’ worlds complete. Look at these worlds we increasingly inhabit:
I doubt these situations can produce the life that wild nature can. I doubt going the the park or eating doof can excite the most exciting parts of ourselves the way exploring nature can.
The mid-fall fruits and vegetables blow my mind, for example. Playing video games, watching TV, and reading books can excite, but not so viscerally. I can’t believe their flavor. That experience, mind-blowing as it is, must not hold a candle to what our ancestors must have experienced daily.
The more I experience nature, the more I realize the value of indulging in it daily. Our society separates us from nature. I believe we should change that separation to integrate nature into society and all of our lives.
Can you imagine a world where everyone experiences nature’s wonder, awe, and range of emotions frequently? Can you imagine yourself helping make it happen?
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