January 4th, 2010

Boss Coffee

The Big Chill-Out Zone

Cobb talks about the positive mental and emotional effects of being outdoors in this moving essay, and I can't help thinking that people do have some wired-in need to get out among the trees, lay out in the grass, stare at the sky, and get a feel for what it was like centuries ago when there were no cities, no suburbs, not even any small towns. Just your family, and maybe another family miles away across the woods, streams and fields. I think a big part of what's wrong with cities these days is that there isn't enough green space for all those people, and the kids don't get exposed to the great outdoors early enough and often enough to know that they need that space to just...chill out. Relax and watch the clouds go by.

I used to get that feeling a lot driving through Iowa on my way to Cedar Rapids, going down through Lyle and St. Ansgar and Osage and getting out into the wide open spaces where it felt like the sky just went on forever. No skylines, no mountains, no forests...maybe a copse of trees off on the horizon someplace. It can be aggravating if you're in the wrong frame of mind, but if you're open to it, it can be very liberating and relaxing.

This is why I think that major league baseball has gone in the wrong direction with its new parks, which are filled with noise and loud music and enormous video screens blaring out ads and information like Satan's own televisions. Baseball ought to be something that connects us to the green fields beyond the endless grayness of the city, a place in the middle of the city where we can just kick back, have a beer or a Diet Coke or just some cold water, and chill out. Unwind. Let some of that stress out while we watch the home team.

This is also why I try to support organizations like the Boy Scouts and Civil Air Patrol that get kids out of the cities and into the country once in a while. It does those kids good, and the more we do it, the less wrapped up in society's stupidity and nonsense they're going to be.