Being Outside

On Friday, inspired by my friend Sara’s post encouraging a five minute meditation, I decided to take the boys into the backyard just because.

While not a meditation exactly, I meant for our field trip to offer a change of pace; an opportunity to leave the comfortable controlled environment of the house to go outdoors and take it all in.

I attempted to let us just be, not to entertain the boys or explain things to them [1].  As we sat there, I tried to imagine what being outside felt like to two infants who spent nine months wrapped in a womb, five months mostly ensconced in a house and are working on rapidly developing their senses.  What would being outside seem like if approached as if you were a baby?

I thought about what they were smelling: our backyard smelled fresh, earthy and alive.

I thought about what they were hearing: natural sounds like birds chirping in the trees and the leaves and grass rustling as the wind blew.  Manmade sounds like the repetitive tumbling of the dryer through its exhaust vent, the sound of cars driving on the road and the drone of Cessnas passing overhead. As the boys babbled I wondered if they were talking so they could hear the way their voices sounded outside, swallowed up in the air without walls to reverberate off of.

I thought about what they were seeing: in the late afternoon the light was diffuse, as the houses behind us cast shade on the yard.  They would see chaotic forms of nature in multitudes not witnessed indoors: green blades of grass and leaves on trees. They could focus on far-away objects: a few clouds as they floated by and the half-moon isolated in the blue sky.

I thought about what they were feeling: the faint cool breeze blowing on their skin, the temperature of their exposed faces and hands several degrees cooler than inside, the slippery surface of the blanket they lay on, the sloped, bumpy, hard-packed earth beneath their backs.

Did being outside inspire them to try to comprehend their place within the larger whole?  It seems unlikely, though I’ll never know.  For myself, I appreciated the opportunity to clear my mind and observe my surroundings as if I were doing it for the first time.  Afterward I felt more at peace and connected.

[1] I did bring toys outside for them to play with. Next time I’ll see what they think about the outdoors sans toys!