Do you ever feel like a disembodied head? I do. There’s just so much information to know, so much to learn about our planet and how to care for it, and the Internet makes obtaining that information faster and easier than ever. I’m subscribed to a multitude of e-newsletters, all from worthwhile organizations:
California Product Stewardship Council
Californians Against Waste
Corporate Accountability International
Earth Resource Foundation
Food & Water Watch
New American Dream
Organic Consumers Association
Save The Bay
I’m sure I’ve missed a few. Plus I’m subscribed to most of the the blogs that you see on my sidebar, including the Green Mom bloggers (which have embraced me as an honorary member) and the APLS, who are currently debating what the A stands for, as well as the newsletters of companies that sell plastic-free products. I want to be informed. Don’t want to miss anything that might be useful in the quest to educate myself and others. Or to miss an opportunity to contribute to the conversation.
So the reality is that I sit hour after hour after hour staring at the computer screen, absorbed in the world of images and ideas, not so different from the original Star Trek’s Captain Pike whose whole world consisted of mental images… illusions… fed to his brain by the Talosians. (I know. That last sentence was way too geeky even for me. But I’ll bet a few of you know what I’m talking about.)
So what about the body? What about the information from the other four senses? From the natural world? The world that is, after all, what I supposedly love and what I’m allegedly trying to protect. How is it that gardening, composting, cooking or simply walking in the hills or along the beach have taken a back seat to email and blogging and virtual reality?
How is it that most of what I learn about nature comes from a plastic box?
I need to get out more. I realized that this weekend at Vajrapani. What a beautiful, soul-stirring place. But why do I need to go on “retreat” for a dose of nature? Why not just step out my front door? There’s a lot to learn from the dirt in my front yard. The garden could be more than something I water for a few minutes a day and then forget until the next day. The compost could be a classroom and meditation hall unto itself. Why not?
It’s not just kids that suffer from nature deficit disorder. In fact, a few nights ago, I was so desperate for something “real” that I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything for dinner except the tomatoes and basil that I picked myself from my own front yard. I’d grown it. I knew where it came from. And I savored every bite. Did I turn on the computer afterwards? Probably not.
What are your favorite ways of immersing yourself in the real world? Of learning experientially? Directly, hands on, with minimal words? Where do you take yourself or your family to figure out what the world’s made of? I’m actually craving a trip to a feedlot to see where meat comes from: the reality of food before marketers and packagers turn it into the idea of food.
Don’t get me wrong. Language is an amazing tool. And computers take that amazing tool to new levels, allowing us to “see” things we couldn’t otherwise or communicate with people we’d never have met. I have no intention of giving up blogging any time soon. But the world inside our heads is only a sketch of reality. How much more does the earth itself have to teach?