To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi
I used to work in an office, and I swear I slowly started going mad. There is something horribly, terribly wrong with being forced to sit in an enclosed space for 8 hours a day. Why do we hide from the sun?
I eventually quit my cubicle job (where I made good money for a person my age) and moved to Florida. Why? Well, for one I missed my family (who lives here), but I also quit because sitting at a desk just wasn’t for me. I would hopelessly stare out the window at the trees and the sun, and imagine myself doing my work on a laptop, seated in a lounge chair underneath a big umbrella that in my imagination I had set up on the parking garage’s top level. I would think of any excuse to go to the little deli in another building in the complex, so that I could go outside and feel the sun and wind on my skin. I eventually took up smoking for the wrong reasons, but then found it to be a great excuse to go outside, so for that, I kinda like it. I have since quit smoking, as it’s kind of counter productive to reaping the benefits of fresh air. Even when I was in high school I would have to leave my room to soak up some sun on the front deck. I would go for walks to the little park down the road. I need my vitamin D.
When I got to Florida and began to hunt for a new job, my mind immediately went to something where I could be outside. I wanted to feel the sun bouncing off my arms as I worked. To me, to simply exist in the presence of a beautiful day, is a gift. If I could spend my days under blue skies and still have my bills paid, what more would there to be to ask of the world?
Psychologists know that there is a direct link between lack of sun and depression. Often you will hear a psychologist suggest to sit near a window at work so you can get more vitamin d. It’s obviously not that simple though. People are still depressed. This article from the Times hits on some fantastic points. Not too long ago we would wake with the sun and retire with the moon. Now we live by the hands of the clock. A day of work used to mean a day of hunting and gathering, a day of working with your hands, a day of caring for livestock, etc. We used to walk to get where we needed, now we drive or have stuff delivered to us. A quote in the Times article reads “We began to get the impression that we were somehow above and separate from nature.” Why? How can we be above the elements that contribute to our every breath?
I used to want to be an anthropologist. Not anymore. I want to be a psychologist. I want to make a solid case for a new way of life. People are fat and depressed and turning to alternate realities in cyberspace because actuality is looking more and more like imprisonment. Drugs won’t fix anything. We need to change the direction we are going in and re-establish our harmony with nature.