I found this video very interesting and wanted to share. Changes, no matter how small or slow, have profound effects on the world in which we live in.
I have spent the last week working hard in the outdoors (and it happens to currently be raining), so I am going to focus a bit more on some indoor elements. I would like to start off by saying that coffee shops and pubs have quite a few things in common. They serve great tasting beverages, have a relaxing atmosphere, are generally filled with groups of people chatting face to face, lack young people…wait a minute! They lack young people? This is true. The younger generations don’t usually hang out at a coffee shop or a pub. This is for a number of reasons, some obvious and some not so much. Usually people go to these places to interact face to face with friends or colleagues. Young people these days seem to use the internet or their phones instead. I remember running up the block to knock on a friend’s door to see if they could come “outside” and play. I never texted or Facebooked (possibly a new word), mostly because it was unavailable, but I would go for the face to face interaction. There was also no Googling (another new word) when I hung out with friends. It was mostly imagination, talking and play, and, a lot of the time, this was done in the outdoors. Occasionally when the weather didn’t cooperate we did hang out inside, but there were not that many screens around when we did.
Speaking of the indoors, I sit here now in on of my favourite indoor spots, a coffee shop. You may have guessed that another of my preferred spots is a pub. However, blogging doesn’t make as much sense when it is written at a pub. It may end up being entertaining, but the spelling and grammar mistakes…I have enough of those already! Just looking around at these locations give credence to healthy relationships. People are conversing face to face, usually with only a drink between them. These face to face interactions without a screen in the midst are becoming few and far between.
Most interactions these days take place over email, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the list goes on. This is especially true with the younger generations (again pulling from the coffee shop and pub reference from above). Convenience is stepping between us and our health, both physical and mental. It has become way more convenient to turn to technology, instead of going into nature or even doing the simple task of meeting to chat with friends. Even though we are connecting a lot more easily through technology, relationships are suffering and we are actually becoming more alone.
Going back to the title of this post, there are two ways that I see in which we can be alone together. One is in nature, and the other is with technology. When we go into the wilderness with a group of friends or colleagues, we can become truly alone. However, to stay safe and even alive, we rely so much on each member of the group. Even though we go into nature to be alone, these experiences end up bringing groups closer together and help to develop strong relationships. That is why we use nature and the outdoors for so many team building activities. It has so much power to help to develop new strong relationships and build upon existing ones. Being alone in nature, in the end, makes us less alone. In the contrary, I believe technology has the power to do the opposite. That is if we are not careful and mindful about it. This video is great and delves deep into how we are becoming more connected through technology, but asks the question of whether it is making us more alone:
In the outdoors, we are alone together, and when we are connected through technology, we are together, but alone. I don’t really need to say more…
Now for the idea of the week: This one is simple, I want you to develop your relationships with those around you. Go into nature with a friend where you need to rely on them and your relationship. Or even more simply, just sit down with only a beer, cup of coffee or tea, hot chocolate, between you and a friend and have a chat.
Before I begin going into the topic of this post, I would like to straighten out a few details regarding the title. The plural form of ‘octopus’ is actually ‘octopuses’. It is the most common form and is the most widely accepted. ‘Octopi’ is objectionable in some cases and is not always listed as being a correct plural form. However, I do prefer the way this title rolls off the tongue, despite the possibility of it being incorrect. Enough of this rambling, now into the post…
Take a good look at the things around you. What do you see? Cars have 5-star safety ratings, we are trying to eliminate global terrorism, there are warning labels on almost every food, playgrounds are to be removed from some schools, that little bump in the sidewalk is painted yellow. There are so many things out there to try to minimize the risk that we are exposed to every day. Now imagine these things in nature. On your hike through the woods, there are fences on the sides of the trails to keep creatures out, roots and rocks are painted bright colours or removed completely, signs warn you of what might be unexpected around the next bend in the trail. It all sounds a little ridiculous, but that is what our society is moving towards. We try to minimize the risk that we are exposed to in almost every way. We are striving for perfection.
Looking at nature, we are going at all of this the wrong way. Adaptation by organisms, such as the octopus, carry no goal of perfection. Trying to eliminate risk in our lives is like trying to eliminate predation in nature. It is a bit of a ridiculous concept. The relationships that have developed in nature over the last millions of years come from adaptations to hostile interactions. They have created symbiotic relationships that work! The octopus is a good example. It has multiple solutions to deal with the problems that it is faced with. For the octopus, when there is trouble, there is no one right way to deal with it. The octopus expects the unexpected!
This exposure to risk has the possibility to be dangerous. However, it keeps us alive, makes us think for ourselves, helps us to deal with everyday problems and is what makes being human exciting. For all of us big kids, we grew up with this exposure to risk in our lives. I know that I occasionally got hurt, but that is how I learned about the world. It was all trial and error. I think that this exposure to natural risk has made me into a well-rounded individual. I feel I can make solid decisions in all aspect of my life. What will things be like without that exposure to natural spaces and risk? Striving to perfect our environment is taking away from a lot of the things that we all grew up with. Youth now have a lot less exposure to a lot of the things we remember about being a kid. I will give you a quote from a blog entry about how children should exercise. It has multiple meanings and we can all take learning from it:
“Kids do dangerous things as a rule. They ride skateboards and make jumps. They climb trees and fall from them – sometimes on purpose to “see what happens.” They play football, get in scuffles, and make hairpin turns at breakneck speeds while dribbling a ball (with either hands or feet). Sports are dangerous, sure, but so is just about anything you do involving your body and the laws of physics. Let them figure it out. You’ll be there if something goes wrong.”
I say to embrace risk in your life and let others do the same. Let us stop trying to perfect our world. It just cannot be done. Instead, let us all learn to live with the risks we are faced with. Everything from finances and work to exercise and play. Take from the octopus, and have multiple solutions to our problems. I like to embrace risk in my life. It is exciting, and is how nature has dealt with problems for millions of years.
April is G.O. month. What does that mean? I think you should just G.O.! (For those of you who don’t want to click on this link, it stands for ‘Get Outside’). Here are some ideas to get started:
- Start a garden
- Organize a neighbourhood clean-up
- Join a walking/running group
- Host a BBQ
- Help out at a local farm
- Volunteer for a nature group
- Go camping (Not RVing)
- Play in the mud!
Now for this week’s idea: Stop avoiding things that may seem a little dangerous, and do something ‘risky’! Remember to emulate octopi (or octopuses). Stop trying to eliminate risk in your life and learn to live with it. It will make things more exciting as well as making life easier. Risk cannot be eliminated and, in learning from one of the most well-adapted organisms on this planet, don’t try to.
Don’t forget to share your thoughts on how you live with risk in the comments section below!