By JOSE GERMAN
For Montclair Local
Jose German is a New Jersey environmental activist, Essex County certified master gardener and Montclair resident. He is the founder of the Northeast Earth Coalition
(neearth.org), a nonprofit environmental organization.
Frank Lloyd Wright advised, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
Our connection to nature is as old as our existence. Many people are not fully conscious about that connection, but as soon as we have taken a walk through a park, or taken a hike through the mountains, we feel different. We feel relaxed, and find solace outside. For over thousands of years, humans have developed this special bond with the natural world. In the course of our evolution, we have tried to domesticate nature in many ways, from agriculture to horticulture to gardening. But the feeling of the mysterious power of wilderness still impresses and challenges us.
Most of us live in urban environments, and that means living with a shortage of open space. We have planted trees on our streets and created urban parks. We have also found solace and enjoyment by creating our own homes as artificial oasis, as a way to keep our natural and instinctive connection with mother nature. Although access to quality time outside is hard to come by, there are a few good reasons to make the great outdoors an essential part of our daily life.
Philosophers, scientists, naturalists and authors have documented the many benefits of spending time in the outdoors. Henry David Thoreau, celebrated therapeutic nature’s effects saying, “I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us a right.”
There are many studies confirming that direct contact with nature improves mental health, and increases spiritual and psychological development. Among the benefits are stress reduction, self-discipline and the feeling of belonging to a greater community.
Outdoor recreation reduces stress, and nature observation, even through a window, speeds healing and recovery, improves work performance and increases job satisfaction and sensory awareness.
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order,” wrote naturalist John Burroughs.
Everything co-exists in the natural world without the necessity of human intervention. It is a system that existed before our own existence, providing a sense of structure, interconnectivity, coherence and reliability, for those wise enough to see it as a model for life. We need to realize that we are an essential component of this structure.
Nature has long been recognized for its relaxing qualities as a place for humans to find tranquility and healing.
We are very fortunate to have so many open spaces and parks around Montclair. Let’s visit them more frequently and be more appreciative of our great outdoors.