My e-mail is full of spam and assorted other garbage but one of the few e-mails I look forward to is Outside Magazine. Lately there have been a few articles that I think are too important not to share about children.
When I was a child, I was somewhat feral for the first decade. It was a combination of having lots of pets, virtually limitless wild spaces, the natural reclusivity of Asperger’s and what we would today call free range parenting. We had dogs and cats and horses and early on chickens. My cousin, who I walked or rode a mile and a half to visit, liked to hunt and lived on a working farm. That was my life until we moved to a trailer park when I was 15. (*&^%$#@!)
The Asperger’s and other issues I had made my school life hell. Being a wild child saved me from far worse. It wasn’t until we moved that suicide became a close friend.
A dog gives unconditional love. Cats give conditional love. Chickens give… well I’m not sure what but even chickens can be reassuring. Farm animals that are well cared for give off all kind of good vibes.
Lo and behold, Outside Magazine comes out with a gaggle of articles to describe how I think we can raise happier and better adjusted children. We did not evolve to be cogs in a machine. We evolved to be close to nature, members of an extended family. We evolved to be free range people. Up until the industrial revolution the
vast majority of people lived a quiet life in small villages and rural areas. Larger urban industrial centers have their advantages but mental health is not one of them. It is my opinion that even the denizens of Los Angeles and New York would be happier if they took some respite in the quiet and the rural.
It is also my opinion that free range children grow up to be adults who are more self sufficient, less vulnerable to psychological trauma and less likely to be led on by the fashion of the day. Outdoor activities offer physical fitness as a benefit. The presence of beloved animals in their life gives a source of comfort when there is none anywhere else and teaches them compassion. Romping with dogs in the dirt and grass and trees creates a healthy immune system and protects against developing allergies.
Millions of years of hominid evolution did not involve one single glass and steel apartment building or teach us to sit still for hours. The more we can get breaks from these, the better.
This song never fails to bring a tear to my eye.
Here are the Outside articles that inspired this post: