Quotes for consideration

Wrench and B taking a breather while skiing at Sunfish Lake Park“One big obstacle to a more deliberate and meditative way of life is that we are so easily bored. Boredom is the soul disease of the age. The more convenient life is, the more boring it grows. It is infinitely more interesting to raise a tomato than to buy one at the grocery, to concoct a sauce than to heat a ready-made one in the microwave, to negotiate a winding mountain road than to drive an interstate highway … to canoe down a rapids than to ride the chute at an amusement park, to sail a boat than to be transported in one, to travel to Brazil than to take a cyberspace tour of it, to have sex than to watch a sex movie, to…. The list might circle the planet.

“The more bored we are, the more we feel the need to be entertained. The more entertained we are, the less interested we become in anything at all. Curiosity, imagination, inventiveness expand with use, like muscles, and atrophy with neglect.”

Kayaking near Dryweed Island in Voyageurs National Park on the Minnesota-Canada border“Studies show an increasing segment of Minnesotans – those ages 19 to 44 – no longer get outdoors to enjoy state parks or trails. They don’t go fishing or hiking. And they are not introducing their children to those outdoor activities.

“The reason? Young adults and their children lead strictly scheduled lives where other activities – sports, computer games and electronic gadgets – dominate their leisure time.

“Also, a new study shows a segment of young Minnesotans don’t have basic outdoors skills, like setting up a tent, and they’re scared of being in the woods.

“They also view parks as boring and would like them – and the delivery of nature information – to be more high-tech.”

Disappointment Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness“No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength.”

10 thoughts on “Quotes for consideration

  1. Scott

    This is definitely a trend on that national scale. While I disposed of last nights beer this morning I read a great article in Newsweek talking about the decline of people getting outside to use the outdoors. The traditional yearly pilgrimage to a national park is no longer, duck hunting is down by 50 percent from its hayday in the 50′s. The only thing they mentioned that had seen an increase was backpacking and because backpacking has never been a real big activity it didn’t even really make a dent.

  2. Terry

    I know that the more out of touch people get with nature the more it just increases the tendency to waste or abuse our natural resources, but I have to confess that at a personal level that I relish the thought of encountering fewer ‘idjits’ in the woods, out on the lake and on the stream banks.

    I suppose that makes me a bad person but at least I am an honest one.

  3. dharma bum Post author

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

    Bryan – thanks, that’s a nice one and another good perspective on the topic…

    Sam – um, er… indeed.

    Scott – I should have provided a link to some stories that came out a week or so ago about a new report about “videophilia”. That’s surely what inspired both Niskasen’s article and the Newsweek article you mention. Richard Louv also tackled the subject — and its frightening implications — in his book “Last Child in the Woods.”

    Terry – that is a natural reaction, I think. Those of us who do love the woods and waters — and frequent public lands like state parks and national forests and the such — generally go there looking for solitude. Nothing shatters solitude like some “idjit”. But boy oh boy, I’d rather we found some ways to convert some of the “idjits” to responsible and respectful fellow users than lose them altogether. Once these numbers take a serious enough dip, all those idjits are going to be at home, surfing the Web or watching American Idol or whatever, and wondering why part of their hard-earned paycheck is going to fund parks they don’t use. Or, maybe just as bad, they’ll demand that if they’re funding the parks, that fire rings be replaced by gas fireplaces, or that campgrounds are wi-fi enabled, or that motors be allowed in the BWCA. Or, more realistically, that more and more lands are opened up to the wanton use of ATVs and snowmobiles… because that’s where I think we’re already seeing this trend manifest itself. People are supplanting the real offerings of nature (peace, boredom, beauty) with loud toys which are strictly entertainment. And the use of which, not coincidentally, conflicts directly with the values that you and I and probably everyone else reading this holds dear. Because when I go paddling, no motor boater knows I’m on the other side of an island they’re roaring by. And when I go hiking, no four-wheeler knows I’m just on the other side of that stand of trees. But I sure as hell know they are there.

    My rambling $.02 anyway.

  4. Dad

    A great collection of quotes. Along those lines, I thought recently that what kid is going to be content with a day on the beach when there are water parks available. It will seem rather boring and old-folkish. The hyper-ness of modern technology makes the simple everyday pastimes seem boring while increasing the production of carbon and the expense of living. While the simple enjoyment of nature goes idle, we become more and more consumers. Enjoy your blog, kiddo.

  5. Terry

    Yeah, what you said in greater detail is more or less what I was trying to allude to in the first part of my comment. It’s just that I am at work and can only comment in short outbursts.

    I think that the hidden value in what you said is that as the chasm between outdoors people and couch potatoes grow, the more extreme ‘idjits’ you’ll bump into.

    In my mind’s eye I can just see the debate to pave the Superior hiking trail to open it up to those two-wheeled Segway things.

  6. dharma bum Post author

    Dad – always nice when you comment. You’re right that for all its virtue, “nature” isn’t always exciting at first glance. The problem is, its virtues are so much greater than anything synthetic, but they just take time to uncover… and in this digital world, patience seems to be the first thing to go.

    Terry – I figured what you were saying is what I was saying. As I got rambling, I think the biggest thing I realized and hadn’t thought of before, is that while a certain segment will simply stay home and on the couch, too many will instead opt to pursue outdoor pastimes like ATVing and snowmobiling, as they are certainly more like TV (Nascar) or video games or whatever.

    And yes, once they are the largest outdoor constituency, who’s going to stick up for wild places like the SHT or the BWCA or other non-extreme places?

  7. Sean

    I’m almost never bored (at least in my personal life). Maybe seven years of interminable graduate school literature seminars and nine years at my last job gave me an extremely high tolerance for tedium. But even when I was a kid, I always had a book to turn to, so I always had something to do.

    However, I notice that my nephews demand constant entertainment from external sources. “I’m BORED! What is there to do around here?” they whine.

    I don’t know, kid, figure it out for yourself!

    Whatever happened to books, paints, kickball, tennis, riding your bike with your friends?

    Sean’s last blog post..Six months in

  8. Wendy Berrell

    Love the Gruchow comments. I just read that book. I hold his writing in very high regard, and I wish we could be treated to more.

    The guys is right on.

    On this topic, I am trying like crazy to get my kids outside whenever possible. This cold winter has been tough. Spring and summer will be much better.

Comments are closed.