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Monday, December 26, 2011

Top Ten Tips for positive parenting in 2012

Number 4. Give your child and yourself the gift of the natural world.

Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.  -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The direct experience of Nature has inspired writers, philosophers, poets and painters for many generations.   Like the gift of Music,  Nature has the capacity to touch us, adult and child alike, at many levels.  The pure sensation of cool sand between our toes and the blue green glitter of ocean water on a summer morning...the bracing cold air, the burning in our thighs, and the grandeur of a New England mountaintop vista achieved by a brisk hike in winter...these and a thousand other experiences are within our reach.  Whether, as parents and partners in wonder, we embark on small excursions to cleanse our lungs and our minds, or to unburden ourselves of life's stresses and traumas, or to strengthen our legs and our hearts, or, like Emerson, to search for transcendental meaning and connectedness with All that Is, the Nature in our own backyard is deserving of our attention as parents and as citizens of the planet.    I believe that Joy in nature is, itself, most likely "natural."   But habitual choices that insulate us from the world - web browsing over walking,  shopping malls* over spring meadows - inevitably dull our senses and our capacity to meet Nature on her own terms.    And so the act of introducing our children to the larger world cannot begin early enough.  There's a New Year's resolution of 2012! 

(*It is the height of irony that our local Walt Whitman Mall is named for one of Emerson's compatriots and the most famous transcendentalist poet in our nation's history, an individual who would have had some interesting and critical things to say about the culture that keeps his namesake enterprise full of young people, even on sunny days!)

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