This I Believe
I believe in the restorative power of the natural world.
As a physicianfollowing individual patients ove many years , I have seen the benefit of their interaction with the non-human world—even if this is limited to walking thier dog, backyard birding , growing their own flowers and vegetables, watching the night sky, or living next to and observing a green space. One patient in particular told me she would live as long as she could cultivate her own garden, another as long as she could walk the perimeter of her yard where there were camillias planted by her late husband. These natural contacts provided a structure and rhythm and purpose to their daily lives.
The controlled studies indeed support that thepredictors of older people remaining functionally independent and living out their lives in their own homes are: muscle mass and tone, and cognition—both of these enhanced by relating to their natural surroundings.
However fragmented and beseiged , their are patches of forest, prairie, meadow or wetland accessible to most people which provide a small refuge, a window into the world apart from the human designed and altered, to which most of us have an organic affinity and response. Our physiology is based in earth elements , and the blood in our veins is derived of ancient seawater.
E O Wilson has clained as much in his book “Biophilia” and there is evidence for our fundamental leaning toward natural event and sense of place.
But is not enough to have a virtual and digitized connectiveness– a streaming of the natue channel? Why allocate the resources to procure and preserve? Is there really a downside to the nature deficit disorder?
You might say “the answer ,my friend , is blowing in the wind”.
John Muir–never at loss for glowing words– would say people need beauty as well as bread, and that the natural area were not just sources of board-feet of timber , or tonnage of mineral, or barrels of crude, or water recharge districts– but were sources of restoration of the human spirit– “fountains of life”–
Indeed, to lose our love for the natural world would be to lose part of our elemental
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