Saturday, November 14, 2015

"Go play outside," said no one in my family

There's something weird going on.

I want to be outside.

I've never wanted to be outside.

In fact, while watching an episode of Downton Abbey, I once compared camping to bomb blasts and wounded soldiers huddled over a tin can and a tiny flame.  In my head, being without running water and electricity seemed equally horrific. War is hell and so is peeing outdoors.

Don't look at me like that.  I can't possibly be alone in my thinking.

I've never felt "one with nature," but here I am, 38, checking my forehead and wondering if this fever will pass.

I don't have the slightest idea where this inner pull came from.  I was not told to play outside as a kid. Growing up in Louisiana it didn't matter much to me what was happening on the other side of my front door as long as the air conditioning was on.  I was unmotivated by family or friends to break a sweat.

The older I get, though, the more I find my heart, mind and soul being drawn to a place remote, beautiful and quiet.

I want to see it, live in it, explore it, document it, write about it, photograph it, and never disturb it.

Sandy Ridge Reservation, Lorain County Metroparks
Is it in my DNA?  Something I will never be able to pinpoint?  I think it speaks to the person I am, this need to nail down and define my sudden will to throw it all away for a life less ordinary.  No more rat race, and especially no more exposure to how awful people can be.

Is that it?  My day job as a journalist is always a lesson in the sour spirits of so many.  People can be rotten, seemingly irredeemable, so much so that it sometimes feels like little pieces of my heart are withering under the strain.

So, I want to sit and stare at nature.  I want to hear the birds, watch the chipmunks and feel the sunshine.

Being an outdoorsy person seems like a tremendous way to live a life in jeans.

For now, instead of hiking to to the middle of nowhere, I wander into local parks.  I set up bird feeders in my back yard.  I watch the children across the street throw corn to the deer that linger in the wooded area at the end of the road.

And I wonder why this is the limit to my commitment, why I can't walk away from it all.

In the words of Cheryl Strayed, "Who would I be if I did? Who would I be if I didn't?"

Rocky River Reservation,Cleveland Metroparks

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