Remember Earth Day? The day, back in middle school, that our teachers would take us on a field trip to the botanical gardens, or the park, or maybe just take us outside and teach a little about the giant space rock we live on? It was always one of my favorite days because a) field trips are awesome, and b) the weather was (usually) amazing. The sun was warm, the air was mild, and everything in sight was radiating vibrant colors. I know kids can have fun outside in any weather, but the weather around Earth Day always seemed to be on another level, which probably has some bearing on why Earth Day is in April, not February, but I digress.
Earth Day, which was originally known as Arbor Day (there’s a fun fact for you), is often marked by the planting of trees but for the majority of us, it’s just a damn good excuse to spend some time outside, grab some fresh air, and soak in some pre-summer rays (sunscreen, please). Maybe you have a barbeque, maybe you head down to the park, MAYBE you do both - live it up, life is short – but being outside is almost a requisite.
See, on paper (or screen), Earth Day is perfect. The weather is tremendous, the parks are luxurious, and the activities follow suit. But what about those who don’t see trees and grass and flowers at every turn? What about those of us who live in the twilight zone an urban metropolis? How are we to celebrate this spring-tastic day of warmth and joy?
Instead of taking transportation, walk as much as you can. I know that big urban areas can be loud and crowded, and smell more vile than your worst nightmares, but walking will allow you to spend time outside and in the sun. Come on, fresh air is one thing but the feeling of sun-lit warmth on your skin is one of life’s simplest pleasures.
Maybe you can’t walk to work, or back home, but you can walk to grab lunch or to go to the nearest market or to just get outside. Whatever excuse you have to make, make it and get yourself out the door.
We’re not kids anymore (though many of us act it) which means we are bound to our desks for most of the day. What a waste, right? Well, if you can get away with it at work, open your window. If not, look for a new job wait till you get home, pop those bad boys open, and fill your space with the natural analog of joy: a warm spring breeze.
GO TO THE PARK
The good news about urban areas is that the parks are usually very well maintained. The people need to see something other than industry on a day to day basis and the parks department (AKA Leslie Knope) put a lot of energy into making the parks reflect that need. Need proof? The most popular park in the world is in a city made almost entirely of concrete, steel, and glass.
Take your friends, significant others, kiddos, or just yourself, and enjoy the open space. Throw a Frisbee, play tag, lay in the grass, it doesn’t matter, just go out, be present, and feel unbounded for a little bit.
(Bonus: The trees in the park act as insulators and block out all the ruckus. Get ready for nothing but the sounds of nature and joyous laughter.)
FIND A ROOF
New York, as I’m sure many other urban cities are, is a dense and hectic place that is known for building up, not out. Meaning that there aren’t many areas in the city that offer vast views of the sky, and there are fewer areas that offer a simple glimpse of the horizon. Normally this would feel like some sort of cruel and unusual punishment, until we remember that building up has benefits of its own, namely the view from the roof.
This city is so tall that from a mere three blocks away, the tallest building in North America, the Freedom Tower, is completely obscured. You can’t even see the spire at the top. But that which the skyscrapers of New York taketh away, they give back 10-fold. The Top of the Rock, and the World Trade Center Observatory, not to mention the Empire State Building Observation Deck, offer the best views of the city and of the sunset. Try to not enjoy Earth from there. I dare you.
Until next time – enjoy the view.