Rains: The Danger of Being an Insider
I remember when I was a kid I used to play outside for hours every day, especially in the warmer months. I had no agenda. There was no need to focus on outcomes. There wasn’t a project, really, unless building a “fort” out of found objects from the woods behind my house cvsn be considered a project. Honestly, looking back I have no idea what I did with all those hours. I do know it was time well spent. There wasn’t a lot of screen time in those days; it was a time when my imagination was free to run wild. It was also a time when I was very active and developing strength from climbing random trees or walking up and down hills just to see what was over them. Or, I’d ride my bike God only knows where in my neighborhood. As I got older it shifted from a bike to a motorcycle. Then eventually a convertible 442 that I restored at my dad’s shop then promptly got airborne on its maiden voyage. The speed and risk increased, but my connection to the outdoors was the theme. I loved being outside!
If you’re anything like me, my life has been increasingly lived indoors as I’ve gotten older. There’s also a lot less sky and a lot more screens. What keeps us inside? In many ways, it’s normal and necessary. We needed to go to school, inside. We needed jobs and careers, inside. We buy homes, inside, inside, inside.
In our work in this industry we’re inside a lot. Fixing cars requires “bricks and mortar” businesses, another name for inside.
In the Midwest we’re in the season where the nights are still long, the weather is unpredictable and it’s cold and gray most days. We all know that more daylight and warmth are coming; it always does. It seems like our world is perfectly designed to keep us indoors more and more. With central air and heat, the evolution of food delivery, and entertainment streamed on any device, the need to get outside is long gone. Or is it? And what’s the cost of not getting outside more?
In Michael Easter’s book, The Comfort Crisis, he discusses how a lot of our physical and mental health challenges could be solved or at least alleviated to a great degree by more time outside. Out of his research emerged the “20-5-3 Rule.” Simply put, it means you should spend 20 minutes a day, 5 hours a week, and 3 days a year being outside, screenless, in nature.
As we enter into the seasons of longer days and warmer weather, how might we find the rejuvenation we need via the “20-5-3 Rule?” A short walk every day, a longer 5-hour immersion on weekends in a local park or forest, and a 3-day adventure sometime during the year. In short, fewer screens and more sky. Even though the snow has been falling for a few days here in Ohio, I’m already starting to dream of a combination kayak/fishing/camping trip for a few days this summer. The 20-minute excursion is a simple walk in our neighborhood with my wife. And the 5-hour weekly time has me going to our central Kentucky property where my son and I are building “cabins in the canopy,” otherwise known as treehouses for families. We’re on a mission to not just get more time outside ourselves, but to help others to the same.
Anyone who knows me or reads my columns regularly knows I write often about self-care. Taking care of ourselves is not selfish. In fact, it’s the opposite. As we care for ourselves we are better able to care for those around us, our spouses, kids, and work team. It’s an often-used metaphor for self-care but so true. When we fly, safety training dictates that in the event of an emergency oxygen will be available via a small mask that will drop from the ceiling. And we are clearly reminded that even if we have kids with us, we are to place ours on first. Why? Isn’t it more caring to put someone else’s on first? Actually, it isn’t. If we don’t put ours on first, we might not get the oxygen we need to be able to help our loved ones. We’re not much good for others' well-being if we can’t breathe.
Now it’s your turn. Yes, you can always find something that needs to be done inside or in your shop. But will you take the time to walk away long enough each day, week, and year to stay healthy and happy?