“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”
Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) is widely credited as the father of Earth Day. As the story goes, after visiting Santa Barbara and viewing firsthand the catastrophic consequences of the oil spill of 1969 in the Santa Barbara Channel, he was inspired to found a special day of environmental education and awareness. This would later become known as “Earth Day.”
Today, Earth Day 2013, we have all sorts of people around the nation and the world celebrating by holding huge gatherings that in their planning, carrying out and attendance require the consumption of massive amounts of resources and result in the emission of immeasurable amounts of pollution.
And in so doing the activities of Earth Day promote the type of disconnect from the natural world and heedless consumption that is the very sort of thing the concept of the environmental day of education was designed to lessen. If one really wants to celebrate and learn of Earth, then why not go for a long hike into the wilderness alone? Leave the metropolitan bubble of artificial reality behind. Part company with its hurried masses and material culture. Escape the urban cage and enter the natural realm.
I have found that there are few better ways to reconnect with the natural world than time alone spent immersed in it, with but the bare basic necessities to sustain you. It is a healthy activity for mind and body that requires few material items and leaves a relatively miniscule environmental footprint. It affords time for reflection and the pondering of nature and one’s place within it to an extent that is impossible to achieve within the man-made bounds of a city. It simplifies life and in that simplification reveals its essence in a way that reaffirms one’s bond to the mother of all mothers. Take a hike!