Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Obsession With Staying “Safe” Keeps Us From Enjoying The Outdoors

The morning TV news usually begins with a reporter displaying a very worried look on their face.  In an almost panicked state they predictably blurt out something like  “ NEXT! What you need to know to stay safe.”

We all sit glued to the TV at the edge of our seats wondering what fate has in store for us this day. Unfortunately that seems to be the headline on every news broadcast these days. Sadly, fear sells, whether it is some catastrophe a world away, a new disease of the week or a frightened and scared black bear stuck in a tree.

Fear is what pays the bills and now staying SAFE has taken on a priority above all else.  Unfortunately the extreme concept of what it means to “stay Safe” is also stopping people from enjoying and connecting with the natural world.

This summer I am all too sure there will be a hot weather alert that will come in from all directions, by phone, TV, radio and videos. The news will show folks buying fans and  air conditioners stacked up at a local home improvement store that they must bring home with the extreme fear that they  might not make it to see the next morning .

But my bet is somehow most of us will ultimately make it. After all that is why we have trees: so we can stand under them when it got too hot to be out in the sun . The only problem is one day we might forget  how to recognize a tree when we see one if we decide to shut ourselves inside out of fear.

Fear has driven us inside and into hiding under our beds. Perhaps a stray coyote might be lurking behind a tree, a mosquito or tick could be justification for staying in for the summer. But then of course the cold will become too much as the weather alerts sound off once more on our phones and TVs.

Take precautions ? Absolutely! Only a fool doesn’t do what they can to keep from being harmed. But to live in fear to the point of not enjoying what mother nature has to offer? Not me, and hopefully not for our children.

We will need to decide for ourselves if it is worth the risk of a some bumps and scrapes to watch a Hummingbird sip nectar from a flower or see a Monarch Butterfly come to rest on a milkweed. Will we take the chance of getting a little sun burn to watch a Great Egret snag a fish or a Bald Eagle soar over our heads?

Will we decide to smell the wildflowers in the meadows that are fast disappearing or just let them be forgotten and reminisce as we recall them in books only. The decision you make will affect all of us and ultimately the future of our natural world .

Every day is a risk, whether it is driving down the highway or standing in the shower. Just living life every day we are in  jeopardy one way or the other.  We always need to take precautions when enjoying the outdoors, whether it is protecting ourselves from ticks, bringing our cell phones in case of emergencies or carrying a bottle of water on a hot day.

Learning safeguards help us make our treks into nature much more pleasurable. But becoming so overly concerned with fears of what “might happen” paralyzes us from relishing all the wonders of nature and all the life benefits that go along with becoming a better human being that is closer with the natural world we live in .

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