Sometimes you just need to talk out what you’re feeling. Yesterday I found the transcript of some thoughts I recorded on my drive home a little over 3 years ago. After re-reading this I guess I really needed to talk some things out…
Ok- my thoughts on a few things after just finishing Frank Forencich’s book Change Your Body Change the World. Very motivating and inspiring. Reading that book, I felt like I connected with it on a guttural, instinctual and natural level, similar to when I read Exuberant Animal also by the same author. I really am feeling, as I think about it and let it process in my mind, that I am missing something in my life. That there is something, there’s a void… a part of me that’s not being expressed, like I am not whole and complete and I think a lot of it has to do with the lack of being in nature. The more I go along the more I’m passionate about saying it’s a strange phenomenon. Well it seems strange, I should say, but I guess it’s probably not. We all find our niche at certain points in life and I’m really finding like this is something I’m passionate about.
I guess where I’m coming from is the more I think about it, the more I read, the more I delve into what it’s like to be a human, what it’s like to feel good, what it’s like to exist as an organism, as a mammal, as a member of this planet and of the species, the more I feel we as humans have gotten away from our nature. The more disconnected we are with everything it means to be alive and to be a human. It’s very disconcerting because I see the world going further and further and becoming almost obsessed with removing themselves from nature and from everything that we adapted with. Everything that created us and made us who we are. We are dissolving ourselves and our identity. The thing that bothers me is that people are getting so consumed with having everything easy and done for them and getting away from a natural habitat. The wave of culture, the direction that we’re heading, is scary to me as a father and as someone who works in health and fitness industry. I need to be doing a better job of communicating how I feel about the disconnect between our current state and our ideal, natural and more healthful state. I talk a lot about nutrition to people and getting back to a more natural way of eating. I’ve been doing some more natural movement kind of activities and have been trying to preach that a little more but I think I need to take it even further and go with the more connection based philosophy. Getting back to the roots of the earth, getting back to the roots of humanity, allowing ourselves to have the sensory input and experience and to challenge all of the things we adapted with nature in natural environments and to get away from doing things for comfort.
I want to practice and preach a little bit more of hormesis and hormetism- the philosophy where I it’s good that we are stressed. I think we should be cold and we should be hot. I think we should be in the rain and the wind. I think we should feel our feet, we should get scrapes, we should bleed a little bit, we should be challenged in a lot of ways physically and emotionally. We should have the sensory input of tracking things. We should watch birds and track animals and plants and put our hands and feet in dirt and climb trees, go for hikes and walk through streams and do things that our bodies are adapted to and respond well to. There’s a lot of research and a lot of anecdotal evidence of natural environments helping people become more healthy. I don’t understand why- well I do understand why- the model of health in our society has gone away from that. I think to myself, I don’t understand how we got so far away from everything that is natural and has made us a healthy thriving species. It’s almost like we’ve forgotten everything that is genuine to us. All of the things that created us as humans we are slowly and methodically getting rid of. Whether you want to say shoes, houses or cars- they’re all avenues, objects and philosophies that are disconnecting us with the real world.
This is very disheartening when I think about it but I now understand why I see people so unhealthy all the time and I understand why they would be that way. It makes sense. We are not living like humans. We are in essence creating our own zoo, a real-life zoo. We’re taking the human out of nature and expecting it to thrive. No animal in the zoo thrives as well as it does in nature, we know that. It is now obvious to me that we don’t understand our own predicament. We think our technology and knowledge which has been developed and evolved that we are smarter than nature. This is so far from the truth it’s almost ridiculous and what’s ridiculous about it even more so is that we don’t understand how much we are screwing ourselves up. That’s the disappointing thing. There is a lot out there, a lot of potential, of a lot of things we could be doing that we are not doing now, which is disheartening.
Just think of the amount of feedback you would get from going on a hike in your bare feet through an undeveloped wilderness or on a mountain or plain. Even doing something where the trail has been already set for you. Think about the amount of things going on in your body that would be novel, that would be guttural, that would be instinctual. Think of all the things you would start paying attention to, the things that you would hear, the things you would smell, the things you would feel, the things that you would see. There is just an inordinate amount of new possibilities out there. The cool thing about our society is that we literally dumbed our senses down to the point where all we have to do is take off our shoes. We will likely become sensitive to everything because we’ve turned off so many of our natural senses that we are now hypersensitive. So all of a sudden you feel your bare feet on the grass or the ground or the cement. It might hurt a little bit, it’s not comfortable, that’s because we’re not used to it. It used to be a normal part of being human, not even that long ago, and so the benefit exists because we are that weakened. I think there is a lot of potential to re-exposing ourselves, just because we’re almost like a clean slate. We’ve numbed our senses down to the point where we’re like an infant and we can take advantage of that. We can try to learn all over again. Which is one of the neat things to take out of this disconnect that we’ve created. The problem is we need more people to understand how important it is to reconnect.
Now don’t get me wrong I like technology. I like what it can offer. I like the fact that I can use my phone to dictate a lecture and have software putting it down into writing so I don’t have to write. I can do this while driving in my car that transports me the 25 miles between where I live and where I work. I like TV. I like a lot of things… computers. I like the Internet. I like a lot of the things that technology offers us but at the same time I can even feel myself getting sucked into the convenience of it all. I think that’s part of my disconnect and my frustration is that I’m spending more time plugged in and unnatural then I am spending time natural.
So I just lost a few thoughts there. I had just praised the benefits of technology and how much I like my phone and dictating to it. Then, out of nowhere a couple times it took everything that I just said and whisk- off into cyberspace. Gone to never return. So maybe that’s just a little friendly reminder as to how fleeting technology can be and how we can’t really rely upon it to make our lives better with all of the certainty that we think. So here we go again and I’ll try to reiterate what I said. It may not be as authentic as the first time but hopefully I’ll be able to phrase it the same way.
Anyway, a few months ago I had read some part of the Exuberant Animal book on tactile sensation and connection to the earth, so I went over to the local park, took my shoes off and ran in the grass, climbed on a hill and climbed trees and just felt stuff. Dirt between my feet, my fingers, my toes. Just smelling nature and getting all the sensation that I very rarely get with the hard surface of everyday life was amazing. Maybe I’m a little bit strange in the amount of enjoyment I get from something like that and I’m wondering, is it me? Is that just something that’s a little bit more natural to me and feels better while other people could care less about it? Is it because I’m passionate about it and therefore more willing to accept it and absorb it and it’s not embarrassing to say that it felt good to be in the dirt? Or is everyone deep down like that and they’re just not either interested or willing or wanting or thinking it makes any difference? That’s where I’m a bit confused. I’m trying to figure out if it’s just something that I’m passionate about that can help me or if it’s something that can help everyone. It’s very easy to get caught up in something that you’re passionate about and start thinking that it’s answering all the problems and that it’s right for everyone. That may not be the case when it comes to getting back to nature. I’m having a hard time understanding how it can’t be beneficial for everyone. We’re all the same species, we all spent most of our history in a natural environment connecting with nature, getting feedback from nature, dealing with and experiencing nature that removing ourselves from it… well, I don’t know how we could not benefit from the reintroduction or the reinforcement of more natural behaviors. It is no coincidence that the more we have removed ourself from nature the sicker we are becoming physically, psychologically and emotionally.
I think the answer is… I don’t know, it just seems too obvious to me that part of our problem is our huge disconnect from our natural way of living as an organism. The further we get away from things that we have adapted to and are supposed to be doing the more we get screwed up. That just makes logical sense and are there some things that we have developed, for example, a technology, that can help us live better of course. But should everything change? Absolutely not. From our food, to the way we move, to the way we think and interact- we’re just so removed from nature and a natural state. It is almost unfathomable how we could let ourselves get to this point. Hundreds of thousands of generations of humans and humanlike ancestors (or whatever you want to call them) have gotten along without technology. And now, with this earthly disconnect we now think that we’re thriving. We think we’re successful because we come up with a computer and we can video chat with somebody. We think that we have evolved our species. The more I think about it the more I realize we are devolving our species to the point where we’re going to run ourselves extinct. Maybe not physically right away but eventually we’re going to destroy humans. Whether it’s from the earth up or whether it’s from the humans down, we are absolutely obliterating the natural resource of life in and relating to the earth.
A few people see this and there are more and more people that are coming to the same understanding. At the same time there are many more people who are pushing the need to involve technology and make it grow which inevitably pushes us further away from what it is like to be human. So of course, I guess I’m just confused and rambling and trying to figure out this in my mind because it’s very confusing and hard to process. There’s a big part of me that wants to stand up in front of the world and say, “What are we doing? Wake up and stop destroying yourself and our species!” and just smack people on the head and get them to wake up. However, as we all know, force is not a good way to get people to understand so I guess I will continue to try and live in a way that inspires people to at least think about how they can make changes in their life. I have begun to do that with some of the dietary nutritional recommendations that I’m making both for my clients and my family. I’ll talk about eating more naturally and I’ve tried to make an impact through things like minimalist shoes and going barefoot, getting out and going the park, getting sunlight, just getting out and feeling the environment in nature. I’m trying to do those things. I think that’s going to have to be where my niche is right now until I can figure out a way to make a bigger impact. Maybe I won’t ever make a bigger impact, I don’t know. I guess if I can impact a few people to feel the same way then that’s better than none.
So I guess I’m at a point when I have to say “well that’s great that I feel this way, how can we make some positive change? Continue with my own behavior…” I need to make sure that I continue to encourage people to eat whole natural foods: seasonal, local, organic (whatever that means), and pastured. Encourage people to take off their shoes and feel the ground. Even if it’s tile floor or marble, whatever the case is, feel the earth or something in general. At least get that connection going on. Encourage them to get outdoors: we live in Southern California. There is no excuse why any person could not spend some time outside. There are parks everywhere, there’s state parks everywhere, there are beaches so close. There’s no excuse for anyone to not get out in nature as much as possible. Granted people are busy. Granted people have crazy lives. But everyone should be able to go for a walk. Everyone should be able to take their shoes off. Everyone should be able to get outside and get some sunshine. Every once in a while get up, move your body around, do a few things that are active and natural. Stimulate all of the aspects of your body that are designed and run well when you move around and when you interact with the world. When you sense things you connect and live a natural, healthy life. It’s kind of a cliché phrase I know it doesn’t mean anything. It’s kind of ambiguous but that’s how I feel. By going against everything that we have evolved to be we are seriously limiting our potential health and happiness.
I lost a few closing thoughts as well, but I guess that’s how I was feeling on my way home from work on Feb 24, 2010…
Thanks for reading, have a great day!