Tag Archives: sucks

Feeling Nature Deficit. Sad!

Last month I bought a “happy lamp” to fill my office cubicle with the light of a fake sun. This form of light therapy is supposed to mimic the effects of sunlight and improve your mood accordingly. The disease it tries to cure is SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, which usually occurs in winter when the days are darker, sunlight is milder, and time indoors seems preferable to braving the cold.

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Fake ads.

You’ve probably felt it on a rainy day. String together a seemingly endless set of rainy days, and your mood and energy level drop. SAD.

Does the lamp work? Maybe. But I’m not sure that sunlight is the only thing I’m missing. What about fresh air, greenery, water, and wildlife? I’m feeling less SAD and more NAD, or nature deficit disorder.

Unlike SAD, this disorder is not diagnosed clinically, and debate continues about what it really is. The term comes from a journalist’s perspective (author Richard Louv) instead of from experimentation. Grad students, get on this!

Cubes of Death

I have lived in worked in very natural environments and very artificial ones. My current

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Cubicle farm, minus the outdoor-farm part.

situation is one of the most artificial, and we joke that it’s a “cubicle farm.” One gray cube blends into another and another, and most of us don’t have a window to light our way. It feels very much like a cage. It is a dead zone. The hallways have zero plants. The windows cannot open, ever. It takes 16 flights of stairs and passing through a security gate before I can take a  breath of fresh air.

Because our office  works on marine conservation, I’m surrounded by photos of fish, whales, and other attractive, natural settings. I’m not sure if the pretty images make things better, or if the extreme contrast makes things feel even more desperate and disconnected.

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Pepe will walk me.

Today I plan to walk my dog into Rock Creek Park, a lovely, wooded oasis in the middle of Washington, D.C. My dog loves the walk, but really it’s the dog taking me to see the trees and the water.

Why Build What is Given

When I think of the greatest palaces and most impressive places built by humans, nothing comes close to even one flower. Why is that? Why can’t man-made “human nature” replace Nature? Shouldn’t we know best what we need?

Apparently we deceive ourselves into separation from natural inspiration. We build cathedrals for spiritual life, yet these spaces cannot compare to the wonders of nature.

I wish there were a bottle of Nature Supplement that I could drink to fix my deficit. I wish that my happy lamp could replace the Sun. I wish that I could become as free as wild fish, whose avatars hang in my cube. I miss being surrounded by life.

Ode to sea changes: Florida’s slow motion volcano

Swamplands remain where no human has ever set foot. Isolated islands in Florida Bay and wetlands in Everglades National Park do not welcome our kind. Mosquitos rule these muddy fiefdoms of mangroves. Life here is too wet, too wild for us land mammals.

But I can’t help feeling that humans just need to be near. To live on the edge, to peer across the ocean’s surface and feel wonder and fear. To try so desperately to control nature—to devour our daily slice of sunset. Before death, victory over mosquito and cockroach. Pest control, nature control.

Fools, we are. We are so lucky to be here, enjoying clean air, enviable weather, endless oceans and painted skies. Where dolphins and turtles roam. Florida’s natural state.

Florida does not belong to us but to the water that occupies it. Water coming at us from all directions. You inhale the humidity with every breath. You smell the wet salt and the muddy sulfur, while springs deliver pure sweetness. The water washes everything, clean. It cannot be contained.

The seawater is not the same as it was. It is angry. It is acidic. Its very chemistry has been altered by human activity, and it is plotting its revenge.

Many people sing Miami’s praises as the city of the future. I say that my city has no future. But I will always love you. Isn’t that enough?

I can do what the snowbirds do. I can pack my bags and leave this place when it serves my purpose no more. I can flee, as humans do when tragedy strikes. We move when we must.

Take me out, Jimmy:

“I got nothin’ more to say. Let me hear you, now
I don’t know, I don’t know where I’m a gonna go
when the volcano blow. 
Let me hear you now, 
I don’t know, I don’t know where I’m a gonna go 
when the volcano blow.”

The E Word

“Costa Rica Sucks.” That was the new slogan that we came up with while on vacation there. The country’s official slogan is “Pura Vida,” meaning Pure Life and celebrating authenticity, but we felt that it needed updating. That much sincerity and idealism gets really annoying, real fast. Costa Rica Sucks.

In reality, it was quite the opposite, but the contradiction was funny. (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the week of timeshare that allowed four of us to visit Condo-vac, our headquarters on the western Pacific coast. No sarcasm there). Sure, there were annoying situations and inconveniences that merited a bit of anger, but mostly we were thinking that Costa Rica Rocks.

Environmentalism sucks. Actually, it does for the individual. It’s all bad news, gloom and doom, we’re all gonna die, blah blah blah. Who needs that? Why not focus on what really matters in today’s world. The Economy, and shopping online. Shopping Rocks!

Of course I don’t hate nature and sustainable living, but it does get annoying when you’re striving for Pura Vida while most places, not being neutral countries with no military, like Costa Rica, tend to focus on protecting themselves and producing more, more, more at any cost. What’s the point of growing your own vegetables when you know they will get covered in nuclear fallout?

Come on, we can do better than that. We don’t have to wallow in the inevitability of a destroyed planet and extinct human race. We can maintain hope that Pura Vida exists today and will continue tomorrow. There’s got to be a way.

Denial sucks, and that’s for real. No longer can we stick our head in the sand and pretend that our Earth is not ill, like we did in the early days of AIDS, of the Holocaust, of slavery, etc. The longer you deny it, the worse it gets. And that’s pure truth.