I’ve got yet another secret to share with you today, that could further destroy our economic system if it got out beyond the confines of this blog.
You know the office building or house you’re sitting in right now? With all the accessories and products and painted walls and carpeted floors? And the rooms you have with extra stuff, like toys for yourself and other toys for your kids, and the garage filled with other things?
All of those things you’ve bought are pretty awesome. I’m not going to deny it, because I have an equal number of cool things myself. When you put all of our things together, they surely cost quite a pretty penny. And they’re worth it.
But the secret is, there is even more awesome stuff outside your house, and even more of it way over yonder beyond the edge of your town. This additional stuff is so amazing, that even the smallest speck of it is even more complicated and sophisticated than an iPad 3. But the weird part is, all of the even more awesome stuff is free.
It gets even weirder: we Humans, rather than just living in a network of large cities connected by airports, actually live on an enormous ball of rock and water, three billion trillion tons of it, racing laps around the Sun at 67,000 miles an hour. The ball is really a giant spaceship, carrying its own life support systems and collecting energy from the Sun, and it actually made every living thing on itself – including you. That’s right, the earth made you, even more than your mother made you, because it made her first. It made all of us – from scratch.
So it’s pretty effing amazing. The entire surface of this Earth thingy, 130 billion acres of it, is teeming with really interesting creatures, sights, sounds, and smells. In the many areas not yet paved over by Humans, you can find steamy jungles filled with cackling birds and breathtaking fjords with waterfalls gushing down their sides in slow-motion. Or even just a big shady oak tree in your own back yard with a trunk too big to reach around, muscular roots reaching deep down beneath the surface, and a million little green photosynthesis factories rustling around in the spring breeze above you, as you lie with the back of your head in the soil, looking straight up into the canopy and into the blue sky beyond. Into SPACE.
It’s easy to forget about Nature when you lead a modern life. And when you forget about it, you slip into a pattern of spending your whole life trying to figure out what’s missing. Driving around, buying things, watching sports on TV, going out to entertainment establishments. Those things are all fun, just like our stuff. But most of the needs they fill are just replacing things that we were already getting for free, from Nature, for thousands of generations before they were invented.
Luckily, each generation is born anew, with a fresh instinctive appreciation of Nature pre-wired right into its little baby brain. As soon as a very young child is exposed to the natural world, she’ll immediately start harvesting twigs, piling up leaves, climbing trees, and digging in the mud and sand. It doesn’t matter how plasticized and commercialized her parents might be. Given the chance, kids will find more fun in Nature than they could ever find with manufactured toys and TV shows.
I like to think of that as a little joke the Earth is playing on us, because as much as we might raid her resources and ignore her, she is saying “Oh No, you AIN’T gonna ignore ME. … I MADE you, Sukka!”. You can train a generation of humans to live without Nature, but their children will still be born right back where they’re supposed to be.
” This observation of children is touching and meaningful”, I can hear you saying, “but what does it have to do with me? I’m an Adult, and I’m working on getting rich at the moment. No time for sand castles.”
But that’s just the thing! You DO have time for sand castles. You’ve got time for any natural adventure that you care to set your mind to, and almost any natural option you choose will make you richer in every way possible.
Learning to appreciate Nature is one of the most Mustachian skills you can build. Nature is a hub that pulls in the good aspects from every corner of life and combines them for you automatically. You get healthier, because the fresh air and great physical effort that are part of being outside are exactly what your body has been craving. This leads to a draining away of your stress and worry. You are challenged more often, because Nature is full of puzzles. The weather is not constant, the light changes, the ground is not flat, and there is water and air spraying in every direction at various times. Challenge, far from being something to avoid, is also one of the biggest sources of happiness. All of this makes you stronger and more productive and feeds back into the start of the cycle as you step outside at the start of the next day.
You gain a deeper appreciation and understanding life itself, as you realize that every living thing on the Earth is actually very closely related. And even just watching and soaking up the shapes and patterns and texture of Nature is calming in a way that indoor activities cannot compete with.
The Human Race survived and evolved by studying and mastering its own natural environment. Because this was such a successful strategy, we evolved a love of nature right into our DNA, to ensure that the curiosity would be passed on to each new generation. So when you’re spending time outside, you’re pressing your own evolutionary happiness buttons by doing what you were designed to do.
To put it into more motherly terms, The Earth made you to learn from her. And we’re always happiest when we are doing what we were made to do.
There are obvious monetary benefits to doing things the natural way as well. Walking and biking are far more natural activities than car-driving. And they also come with enormous financial and health benefits. Nature-based leisure activities often come with a very low price tag, especially when done close to home. When you’re planning your own free time, you should start with the natural activities, like just walking somewhere, having lunch in the park, reading a book down by the creek, and biking around town to get things done. Only after these basic, satisfying things are accomplished, do you even need to think about doing anything else with your time. There’s already so much to be done out there!
And get this: the areas with the largest amount of Nature available, are often the areas with the lowest cost of living! Big cities are great for young people still getting ahead in fancy careers. And even the biggest ones still offer public parks, trees, and occasional rivers. But as you move out to a smaller city (like the one I live in), the greenery grows even as the property prices shrink. And yet a convenient, bikeable lifestyle remains.
At the extreme end of the spectrum, some of us live in self-sustaining homes overlooking thousands of acres of remote foothills and forests. Land out there can be purchased for the spare change in your wallet, and yet it serves up more Nature every day before breakfast than most city dwellers get to see in a decade. The choices are vast and it’s up to you – Nature is not expensive.
Your lesson, then, is to keep a little picture of Nature on your fridge, to remind you to look to her first whenever you have needs. As your skill grows, you’ll find that she offers the answer to more and more of your questions. You’ll suddenly find that you have less need for money than ever before, and yet more resources than ever. In short, you will be Rich.