Take a good look at the things around you. What do you see? Cars have 5-star safety ratings, there are warning labels on almost every food and object, playgrounds are to be removed from schools, that little bump in the sidewalk is painted yellow, we are trying to eliminate every little health risk. There are so many things out there to try to minimize the risk that we are exposed to every day. Now imagine these things in nature. On your hike through the woods, there are fences on the sides of the trails to keep creatures out, roots and rocks are painted bright colours or removed completely, signs warn you of what might be unexpected around the next bend in the trail. It all sounds a little ridiculous, but that is what our society seems to be moving towards. We try to minimize the risk that we are exposed to in almost every way. We are striving for perfection.
Looking at nature, we are going at all of this the wrong way. Adaptation by living organisms carry no goal of perfection. Trying to eliminate risk in our lives is like trying to eliminate predation in nature. It is a bit of a ridiculous concept. The relationships that have developed in nature over the last millions of years come from adaptations to hostile interactions. They have created symbiotic relationships that work! Many plants and animals have multiple solutions to deal with the problems that they are faced with. For organisms, when there is trouble, there is no one right way to deal with it. They expect the unexpected!
This exposure to risk has the possibility to be dangerous. However, it keeps us alive, makes us think for ourselves, helps us to deal with everyday problems and is what makes being human exciting. For all of us big kids, we grew up with this exposure to risk in our lives. I know that I occasionally got hurt, but that is how I learned about the world. It was all trial and error. I think that this exposure to natural risk has made me into a well-rounded individual. I feel I can make solid decisions in all aspect of my life. What will things be like without that exposure to natural spaces and risk? Striving to perfect our environment is taking away from a lot of the things that we all grew up with.
Un-plugging the Youth…
Youth today now have a lot less exposure to a lot of the things we remember about being young. Youth should do dangerous things as a rule. They ride skateboards, make jumps, climb trees, fall – sometimes on purpose to “see what happens” – play sports, get in scuffles, and make hairpin turns at breakneck speeds while dribbling a ball. Activity and sports are dangerous, but so is just about anything that involves the human body and the laws of physics. Let youth figure it out themselves. You’ll be there if something goes wrong.
I say to unplug from the electronic devices, and embrace risk in your life. Let others do the same. Let us stop trying to perfect our world. It just cannot be done. Instead, let us all learn to live with the risks we are faced with. Everything from finances and work to exercise and play. Take from nature, and have multiple solutions to our problems. I like to unplug every once in a while, and embrace risk in my life. It is exciting, and is how nature has dealt with problems for millions of years.
Today is “Unplug and Play Day”. What does that mean? I think you should take a risk by leaving your electronic devices behind.
Here are some ideas to get started:
Start a garden
Organize a neighbourhood clean-up
Join a walking/running/cycling group
Host an outdoor BBQ
Help out at a local farm
Volunteer for a nature group
Explore, get dirty and play in the mud!
Don’t forget to share your thoughts on how you plan to “Unplug and Play” by clicking here!
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