In 2008 Richard Louv wrote a bestseller titled Last Child in the Woods which revealed that kids today, wired through all their electronic devices, have little or no direct contact with nature. In one interview a fourth grader in San Diego said: "I like to play indoors 'cause that's where all the outlets are." Louv described some ways to combat what he called "nature-deficit disorder."
Florence Williams, a gifted journalist and contributing editor to Outside magazine, carries this worthwhile crusade for nature forward with a rousing, eclectic, and persuasive case against the human disconnection from the natural world. With energy and pluck, she uses insights and illustrations from biology, psychology, and medicine to advocate for the exploration of the marvelous wonders of nature. Williams has plenty of surprises in this book, including her belief that the Romantic poets in their advocacy of nature served as forerunners of today's research neuroscientists.
Williams whisks us away to experience parks in Helsinki, forest-bathing in Japan, and a wellness philosophy in Korea built around the senses. She amplifies this global accent with scientific research on how physical activity (walking just 15 minutes a day in the woods) results in improving the memory, slowing aging, lowering anxiety, and, for some depressed individuals, serving as an effective replacement for antidepressants. Rousseau wrote in Confessions: "I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think: my mind only works with my legs."
The most uplifting and enchanting section of The Nature Fix is the chapter on "The Power of Awe," where Williams assesses the liberation of the feeling of awe from the fabric of religion and the scientific investigation of awe. Here you can ponder the many virtues of this human quality which sparks curiosity, social connections, bonds with nature, and the need to share magic moments with others. Hats off to Williams for her salutary contributions to our understanding of reverence and our continuing respect for the natural world!