As spring finally shows signs of settling in, I’ve been told on a few occasions that I should “go outside.” The other day, a co-worker asked me if I had “gone outside” on a recent beautiful Sunday. When I told him I had not, his face fell and he comforted me as though I had relayed news of the death of a family pet.
Now, I should make one thing perfectly clear. I’m aware of “the outside” and am actually a supporter of its existence. To me, it keeps the inside cozy and confined – marking the edges of it so that one realizes there’s a difference, for example, between the house and the back yard.
But that’s as far as it goes. I liken it to being aware of an ocean or river but having no desire to swim in it.
I have to admit to being curious as to just why I’m expected to want to “go outside.” Is it because the sun shines and the air is warm? I rather like the climate-controlled environment of the indoor world. What are the odds that the outside temperature will exactly mimic that sweet spot of comfort all of us can produce within our homes and workplace buildings?
It’s a rather god-like ability we have when you think about it, to be able to turn a dial and like a supreme being marshal all the forces of heat or cooling to fashion an ideal environment for ourselves.
No one tells an astronaut that they should “go outside” when they’re in the comfy confines of a space station. Perhaps they do on occasion have to venture out, but I’m guessing it’s only because something bad is happening and no other option is available.
That’s how I feel. It’s a necessary part of our life in that we often have to go outside – there really is no way around it. But I look at it as a way of getting from one inside space to another – like going from our front door to the car parked at the curb. Of course, that’s only necessary if one doesn’t have an attached garage. This concept of attaching an inside for your car must have been invented by someone who – like me – thought there were ways to avoid the outside all together, with just a little effort.
I know that some will object and claim the outside is a good thing. Nothing could be further from the truth. I can prove it. If the outside were so great, then wouldn’t we welcome it into our homes? The way one gets excited when a package arrives at our door and isn’t stolen by the neighbours before we get home from work.
Other people are outside. I don’t know about you, but I find that group commonly known as “other people” to be somewhat annoying – present company excluded. Let me tell you what other people do: they yell, sometimes smell and play their 1970s hard rock too loudly from their porches. They also show a desire to live in the houses next to me wherever I’ve called home.
Human history can be viewed as one long trek toward the inside. Whether it was caves, grass huts, teepees or igloos, as a species we’ve shown a penchant for choosing the inside over the outside no matter where we lived or in what climate.
It’s very bright outside, particularly during the day. At dusk, there are small buzzing insects that enjoy sucking our blood. I have groundhogs living under my house, possums on my porch and raccoons scratching at my screen door. They are all basically trying to get inside – just like me.
These are not stupid animals. They don’t want to be outside either.
As children, we’re always told to go outside. It’s not for our health. It’s because the grown-ups want the inside to themselves.
I completely get it.
Troy Media columnist Gavin MacFadyen is a Canada-raised, U.S.-based writer. Blending insight and wit, he brings a unique perspective to the issues of the day.
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Tags: Urban life