Weekend Review: Awakening to Nature by Charles Cook

Awakening to Nature : Renewing Your Life by Connecting with the Natural World
Sitting at my desk, as I do for 40 hours out of every week, I am able to see out a window only if I tilt my chair back and strain to the right. At all other times my field of vision is filled only with this computer screen, illuminated by the flickering fluorescent light above. Never has the separation between humans and the natural environment been more acute than in our present time of long commutes, office buildings, and malls. Charles Cook, author of Awakening to Nature: Renewing Your Life by Connecting with the Natural World (2001) sees a problem with this.

In a tone that is gentle and encouraging, Cook urges us to remember our roots. The time where it was the norm to spend 95% of our time indoors is but a blip on the evolutionary time scale. For almost all of our human history, we have spent our time out-of-doors. Working the land, gathering food, cooking, and sleeping were all things that we used to do with nothing but the sky overhead and the earth under our feet. Shelter was the place that was sought only when necessary, not our default location. To move the bulk of our activities indoors has left us more unhealthy, more isolated, and more unhappy.

The organically flowing prose of this book is less of a guide to "getting back to nature" and more of a wandering through a variety of points of entry into exploring and experiencing nature. Cook begins by asking us to start where we are.  Look out the window and let your eyes rest on the natural shapes that are so different from the right angles of our constructed environments. Along the way he uses hills, flora, fauna, rain, sky, ground, desert, walking, and others as ways to think about ourselves in the natural landscape. This was a wonderful book to read at my desk as it helped me to remember the "real" world out there, but I think it would have been even better to read with my back leaning up against a tree.

1 comment:

  1. This is so true. I'm going through the same thing (: Living in the city has given a new appreciation for the connection of nature.

    I long for windows on two walls in each room, where air can flow when the sills fly open...where the only sounds you hear at night are the crickets chirping and the giggles of children as they catch fireflies.

    But for now, I homestead in my apartment, waiting on the day when those 10 acres of homesteading heaven call my name (: