The Biophiliac’s Guide to Modern Life: Tip #1

Tip #1: Start where you are

Full disclosure: I’m not–and never will be–the sort of adrenaline junky profiled in a Patagonia catalogue.

Every time I’m out adventuring around Bellingham, I come across people who are more daring than I’ll ever be. From the people who are into DH biking to the local ultra runners to the retired gentleman we met last summer on his way back from skiing glaciers at Mt. Baker, there are plenty of folks around these parts who keep me humble.

This series probably isn’t for those people.

What this series is about is the daily practice of incorporating some element of nature into our lives, despite the pressures of work and home and the siren call of too many devices, among other distractions.

The term biophilia was popularized by biologist E.O. Wilson, who uses it to describe the innate affinity that human beings have for nature and other living things. From houseplants to mountaineering, the hypothesis goes, humans are drawn to the natural world in ways deeply rooted in our biology.

We have a good friend and hiking buddy who jokes that he needs a certain number of hours spent in the woods each week just to be able to face the rest of his life. His case isn’t extreme; it’s just that he’s more honest than most. I know that when I’ve spent too much time cooped up inside, I start to get antsy. I’m unable to focus, crankier, just slower in general. Certainly I am a calmer, more generous person when I’ve spent time hiking or otherwise engaged with the natural world.

When much of our time is spent in sheltered environments, it’s easy to overlook how our interactions with the natural world make us feel. And for me, time in nature is what makes me feel normal.

But the point here is that it doesn’t need to be some epic adventure to a distant mountaintop. Start by noticing your surroundings: the hardy plant life–also known as weeds–growing in the sidewalks on your walk in to the office, the spring growth on the tree outside your window, the sweep of clouds across the evening sky.

These things count as nature too, and the more we learn to appreciate the natural world in all its manifestations, the better chance we have of protecting it.

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