March 06, 2017

Outdoor materialism is HERE, it’s happening. From the looks of it on Instagram and Facebook (both of which I am by no means an expert on), it’s taken over. Using the “great outdoors” to sell a good time, fun product, or self image, seems more heightened than ever. We’re “following our bliss” into the woods in order to take awesome selfies and sell our stories.

I have no doubt it’s fueled by a yearning for something deeper—at least when I’ve taken part in it that’s been true for me. Yet, it’s still controlled by self interest, a self perceived as separate from nature and other beings.

Of coarse, this isn’t always the case for people who are venturing out into nature, onto wild land. There are certainly those who are in active dialogue with the Earth. They are forming an intimate bond with all that surrounds them. They are being care-full with the animal-beings and plant-beings. They are listening to the wind and trees.

But many people are not listening, not caring, and simply looking for a good time or “epic” picture to post. They find nature provides the perfect prop or a quick release from their busy lives. Really though, it’s not unlike going over to a friend’s house, avoiding any real conversation or connection, yet romping through their living room and taking 100 pictures while doing so. It’s bizarre.

I know there’s no easy answer to this, it’s a predicament. I know people NEED time outdoors in order to recharge and stay sane—I certainly do. I know most people indoctrinated in the dominant culture haven’t been taught how to take care of nature, how to be still and listen to her. I know I, myself, am still working on building a reciprocal and soulful relationship with the wild.

I suppose I am trying to start an honest conversation about this. For me, it’s worth evaluating when I’m in right relationship with nature, versus dominating—using—her. The question I ask myself, and want to put out there, is, “Are you deeply listening to the Earth? Not just with your ears, but with your heart, eyes, body, and soul? Are you asking what she needs too?”

We have to be honest about the answers to these questions, no matter how painful. We have to question our tendency toward outdoor materialism, spiritual materialism, domination, and exploitation. We have to un-domesticate our minds and hearts (and there’s an even larger conversation to be had about decolonization). Our future, the future of this planet, depends on it.