I’ve realized something about myself. I hate changing state. That’s at the core of my being. I don’t like the act of changing my current condition. It almost doesn’t matter what my current condition is. I may not even like my current condition that much. I just don’t like going to a different condition.
If I’m asleep, I don’t want to get up.
If I’m awake, I don’t want to stop what I’m doing to go to sleep.
It’s not that I dislike sleep. Once I’m in bed and settled down, it’s awesome. I just don’t like the transition. It’s the reverse problem in the morning.
I love swimming, but I hate getting in the water. Going from a dry state to a wet state is distressing. Once I’m wet I hate to get out of the water.
I also hate getting dirty. I have no problem being dirty, but going from a clean state to a dirty state is very off-putting for me. Once I’m dirty, though, I can happily play or work in that state for quite a while.
It didn’t used to bother me too much to switch from state to state as a kid. I’d jump in the pool without a second thought. Now… I stand on the edge trying to psych myself into jumping in or walk in very, very slowly. I used to be able to just sit down in the dirt and play or walk through some mud, knowing (if I even considered it) that it would wash off. Now… I grab a pair of gloves if I think I’ll be touching something dirty.
What happened? Is this a symptom of age? Is everybody like this, or is it just me?
Stick with me here… this is going to feel like it’s out of nowhere.
I recently reconnected on Facebook with one of my best friends from my school days. Cliff wrote an article for Examiner.com about his visit to Newman Wetlands Center in Georgia. It’s pretty short. Go read it.
Did you go read it? I doubt it. You’re current state is reading this page. I doubt you wanted to go the trouble of changing state to read something else, and then change state again to come back here, even though I told you to and it’s relevant to this discussion.
Well, here’s what he said at the end of the article:
…children today have fewer opportunities to get out into nature than their parents did.Â They spend much less time splashing in the water, jumping in the mud, catching frogs and salamanders, and using leaves and branches to construct imaginary realms.Â Increasingly, children are growing up in suburban developments whose doctrines and convenants expressly forbid tree forts and wild spaces in residents’ yards.Â Where can children go to bond with nature?Â “Where do the children play?” as a famous songwriter once asked.
There are so few places left in Georgia, and throughoutÂ much of the eastern U.S., for children to connect with the natural world. So naturally, those few places open to them are in danger of abuse from overuse, because they are all there is.Â We need more gaps in the fence, not fewer.Â Â We needÂ a lot more places without fences, or “keep out” signs, or wood-chip paths where nature is to be observed at a respectful distance, like paintings behind ropes in a museum.
I have to agree. I’m lucky in that I live in a suburban area that verges on the rural, and there are places around here that I can take my kids to “connect with the natural world,” but I rarely take advantage of them. And I think that’s a big mistake. Growing up, I had a LOT of opportunity to hang out in the woods, play by a stream, swing from trees, and climb rocks. I got dirty. I used my imagination. I also learned a lot, including how to be calm, patient, and observant (primarily while trying not to spook a chipmunk or some other woodland creature I was watching). Nature was not something I observed at a distance, it was something I experienced. I want my kids to have that same opportunity.
To do that, I’m going to have to get comfortable with changing states again. Especially getting dirty.