Friday, April 17, 2009

Always choose Outdoors over Indoors

Spring is taking its own sweet time in arriving in Virginia this year, but we are getting just enough pretty days to make us start craving the outdoors again.

The few beautiful, warm days we have had have driven home a strong point to me- that the great outdoors is the greatest economic equalizer in our society. No matter how much money we have, or don’t have, all of us living in the same city feel the same temperature and see the same amount of sunlight as everyone else. Same with the beautiful trees, flowers, birds…they are there for all of us.

The great outdoors also has another gift for us- saving money. I’m realizing that by making one simple choice at every opportunity- choosing outdoors rather than indoors – almost anything can be made more affordable, meaningful, and enjoyable:

Entertaining: Now’s the time of year for us all to come out of our winter cocoons and get together, but it doesn’t have to be in your home! You can always host a casual get-together in your backyard, but even simpler is to organize a gathering in a park or public garden. Taking it outside relieves the stress on you to be the “hostess” responsible for providing the beauty of the surroundings (Mother Nature will now take care of that), and helps make the event be about the simple act of getting together, not showing off your house.

Entertainment: I’m always amazed at the price of an indoor concert ticket compared to the quality of the bands you can get at free outdoor concerts. Another fabulous quality of an outdoor venue is that you can walk away with a screaming baby. If you keep a basket filled with hats, sunscreen, balls, bubbles, a few snacks, and a blanket near your front door or in your car, you’ll instantly be ready to head for a quick escape outside OR stretch out an otherwise just-fun-for-adults outdoor event…rather than heading for the nearest ice cream shop, Target store, or remote control when boredom hits.

Transportation: Before you grab your car keys, take an instant to ask yourself if you could possibly get there on bike or foot. This has probably been my most life-changing habit in terms of my wallet, body, and carbon imprint. Traveling this way makes it almost impossible to overbuy (you have to carry it home) or impulse buy (you’d have to walk there); it burns calories, saves gas money, and cuts down on “down time”- your transportation is your workout.

But choosing the outdoors over the indoors is more than just trying to live cheaply. We are actually doing something pretty profound- we are choosing the world’s beauty over our own. Living indoors requires us to fully decorate and control our environment- with our vision, our taste, our possessions, and our energy. Everything just reflects ourselves. To live outdoors is to be about something bigger, and to relinquish control over every sound, temperature, view, and living creature allowed access to our lives.

So let’s get out there, and take a break from trying to create the perfect world within our imperfect possessions. To do otherwise is such a waste of this beautiful gift of Spring!


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