There is a new book out on Nature Deficiency Disorder and children (I saw it in a bookstore, but now can’t find it online).
It reminds me of something that happened when we lived in the countryside in Wisconsin (west of Madison).
Parsifal, our cat, was hit by a car, miraculously survived, and had a swollen brain for some weeks. It meant that he could not do most of his regular activities, such as seeing, grooming, eating solid food etc. He was a zombie – if he walked, he would walk until he got to a wall, then walk along the wall to a corner, and be stuck there.
Knowing how important nature is for me, including the stimulation coming from the rich sensory input, I took him outside, and he became a whole different cat. He became alert and alive, interested in his surroundings, and walked in a much more purposeful and receptive way. From then on, we had him outside – in our company – as much as we could, and he recovered completely.
I don’t know if it made a difference in the recovery, but it is likely.
This also reminds me of the horrors of modern hospitals, sterile in every sense of the world. How can we expect people to recover in such an environment? And why do we choose this, when we could allow for natural surroundings with their beauty, rich and varied sensory stimulation, reminders of who we really are as human beings, and a much wider context which allows us to see our own personal problems more in perspective.
And if we raise whole generations of children who has not had these experiences, what does that mean? It may mean that we’ll have generations of human beings…
Who do not appreciate nature and wilderness, which is our life support system.
Who are deprived of the rich sensory stimulation coming from nature and wilderness.
Who do not have the vast life processes – of the Earth as a whole and the history of Earth – as a natural context for their own individual lives.
Who live in a “bubble” constructed by the human mind, with little or no (refreshing, reminding) input from the larger life processes.
It is a scary scenario, although I also have faith in life’s ability to kick itself in the butt and bring itself back to itself.
There are after all some deep and powerful self-organizing, self-correcting and self-healing processes going on in all of life, including the human body/mind.