I found The Nature Principle by Richard Louv in a not-so-little, locally owned shop after unintentionally wandering the woods adjacent to the city. It was sticky hot, the kind of day that brings anger boiling up, but I felt there was a greater purpose in our impromptu hike. A calm assurance settled over me beneath that green canopy, lingering as we cruised the blazing concrete streets. Much like in Louv’s book, Nature assumed the roles of teacher and provider of much-needed balm for an overactive psyche.
Louv proposes a future in which we change the way we think about nature, environmentalism, and our future, utilizing research, personal stories and anecdotes from others to weave a potential world where people don’t just coexist with the environment, but forge a symbiotic relationship with it, creating societies with stronger bonds, greater physical and mental health, and a deeper, more personal sense of spirit.
I’m particularly intrigued with the effects of the natural world on mental health. When speaking of psychological hypothesis that include the natural environment in their analysis, Louv says,
“Anecdotally, these and other hypothesis offer a way to identify the dissonance, this psychological and even physical pain that so many of us feel as we see the natural landscapes that we love replaced by strip mines and strip malls. The heartsickness is real.”
Strange, that in attempting to solve mental and emotional issues, we take into account everything from childhood trauma to the effects of media, but rarely the world that lives and breathes through us from before our first cries.
While my attention runs pitifully short on these sweltering days, this intriguing book will have me coming back for more.