If ever there was a time to connect with nature, it is now. Perhaps the author Edward Abbey best warned us in his 1968 book, “Desert Solitaire,” when he wrote, “If industrial man continues to multiply his numbers and expand his operations he will succeed in his apparent intention, to seal himself off from the natural and isolate himself within a synthetic prison of his own making.”
There is an obvious effort to push nature’s beauty into the background of industrialization. When nature falls into crisis, so do we. We are nature.
Medical physicians prescribe nature walks for health. There’s a variety of names for this therapy that range from ecotherapy, earthing, forest bathing, and eutierria — becoming one with nature.
When we spend more time with our oceans, forests, deserts and our natural homes, and put ourselves into nature’s true environments is good for the body, the soul, the brain and creativity, researchers say.
The first time I experienced eutierria was during a dark moment in my childhood. It birthed my love affair with the sea. Rescued from my family’s dysfunction, a kind relative included me in a two-week seaside vacation.
Energized by the sound of the ocean and the lapping waves not far from the oceanfront getaway, each morning I gulped my breakfast cereal, scurried barefoot down the wooden stairs and charged through the sand toward the surf. By 9 A.M. I bobbed where the waves began their incoming swell. The swells lifted me from the sandy bottom and I flattened my body into a dead man’s float. My nightmare childhood dissolved as I transformed into an unnamed mammal that healed in the seas.
Boys rode the surf while I bobbed. Not to be outdone, I searched for the next swell. The teal water rose like fast-rising bread, dwarfing me like a bread crumb. This is a good one, I thought. I worked my best strokes so that I could ride this wave like warm butter on bread into the shore. Instead, it lifted me high above the shore and I watched the boys get a free ride.
“Here comes one,” a nearby sunburned and water-logged kid yelled my way.
This wave was mine. I kicked hard and stretched my arms almost beyond my reach for the best stroke that matched the incoming wave. My heart pounded in anticipation. The water surged. I took a deep breath and swam with the pitch. I owned it. My arms formed a V. The ocean propelled me past timid swimmers testing the waters. The wave crested and fell like a bride’s veil of white netting. Now the ocean cradled and gently released me with a smooth landing into the sand. I was Neptune’s beloved maiden of the sea. The sea gifted me with a new version of life.
The world ocean, is our planet’s dominate modifier of life as we know it. We classify the world ocean into five large basins that are connected by smaller and shallower seas. My home abuts the Pacific Ocean, the largest and deepest basin. The Marianas Trench, east of the Philippine Islands, hosts the deepest point at 35,797 feet (10,911 m). While the Atlantic is larger than the Indian Ocean, they average similar depths. The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and most shallow of the four basins. The Southern Ocean surrounds Antartica. Connecting these basins are shallow seas like the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the South China Sea.
And our planet’s modifier is in trouble. It’s a Neptune 911 crisis. What can we do to combat our ocean’s struggle with marine debris, hypoxia and acidification? The answers are found in university labs, recognized in world organizations, and ignored by feckless politicians and leaders.
But as citizens of the planet we can let our eutierra inspire our actions and join in an international effort to keep our beaches and waterways clean of trash and debris. Saturday, September 15, is International Coastal Cleanup Day. Volunteers can make a difference in this one arm of caring for our oceans. It’s a simple way to connect with our planet and releasing ourselves from the “synthetic prison of (our) own making.”