A HIP HEDONIST'S GUIDE

How to reconnect with nature if you’re stuck in the city this Earth Day

Obsession
Life as Laboratory
Obsession
Life as Laboratory

Nature is fine and all—you’re not against it. But you dig civilization and the finer things and don’t leave the city unless there’s some guarantee that everyone and everything you enjoy in your metropolis will be available on your exodus.

I get it. We are alike. Not long ago, I too dwelled among the many and dressed as awesome as possible and bought coffee and jostled and brunched and loved it. Now, I live in a redwood forest yet I remain deeply superficial and hedonistic.

So believe me when I say you can celebrate Earth Day—your way—and gain from the experience. You don’t have to hug a tree, get dirty, or leave the city to pay tribute to the planet. Here are some suggestions, in order of most-to-least-taxing in terms of actual interaction with nature:

Hip-nic

Pack a picnic basket, and grab a blanket and jacket. Lunch in a local park, look good as you sip wine in the sunshine, and improve your mental and physical health with absolutely no effort.

Man picnicking solo.
Style is substance. (Max pixel.)

Scientific studies have shown that being in greenery, especially spending time with trees—even in a city and even very briefly, soothes the body and mind, lifting mood and improving physiological responses to existence for some time after exposure.

Bloomies

If you’d really rather not hang outside, buy a bouquet of flowers. Stopping to sniff the roses (or any other type of bloom) is a good mindfulness practice that does double duty as aroma therapy, reducing anxiety. Plus, the benefits of this purchase will last beyond Earth Day (if you remember to put water in the vase).

Spring bouquet.
Bring nature home. (Max Pixel)

Researchers have found that hospital patients who have flowers in their rooms take less pain medication and feel less anxious. “Smell is one of the most primal of our senses, and sight is our primary sensation,” Dak Kopec, an environmental psychologist, tells Elle Decor. “Combining our primary sensation with our primal sensation evokes strong feelings, happiness, and brings about a lot of positive moods.”

Salad days

Gems in nature.
Gems in nature. (Max Pixel)

This is easy. You know salad. You eat it all the time. But do you ever think how amazing it is that you can access Earth’s jewels without knowing how to grow anything?

Well, think about it. Get real close to your fruits and vegetables. They’re a treasure and offer many sensual pleasures! Caress the velvet skin of a peach, see how lettuce leafs like a rose, delight in the deep pink skin of radishes that taste like Earth herself.

Notice the small miracles that make it to your grocery, and you will gain a new appreciation for food and civilization (yay supply chains!), all while enriching your body with fiber, protein, nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins.

Be seen on the scene, naturally

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature. Penguin Classics cover.
Better than the real thing. (Penguin Classics.)

If you enjoy being seen doing things as much or more than actually doing things, you are not alone and need not celebrate Earth Day alone either. Read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s classic essay “Nature,” in print, at a cafe—or at least place it on the table—and enjoy the intellectual and social benefits that accrue.

The Penguin Classics paperback version is a particularly aesthetic choice for its charming cover and will no doubt arouse the interest of other cool cats. They’ll know you know where it’s at and you might start chatting.

If nothing else, you’ll glimpse the natural beauty and mystery that barely moves you through the eyes of a great American writer. In Emerson’s words, “Nature never wears a mean appearance. Neither does the wisest man extort her secret, and lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection.”

Dress contemplatively

Eschew synthetic fabrics for one day and contemplate your cotton, as well as the genius of the loom. Making materials out of plants may not seem like such a big deal today, but inventing textiles took imagination, and scientists still use traditional techniques to make futuristic fabrics.

Cotton in the wild.
Cotton in the wild. (Maxpixel)

Cotton grows naturally as a wildflower but transforming cotton balls into materials for the manufacture of consumer products takes a lot of work. First, farmers plant, grow, and harvest cotton, then deliver it to a material manufacturer who separates seed and chaff in a gin, and spins the soft puffs of cotton into threads to be woven on a loom, sometimes dyed. Only then, the material can be cut, sewn, and sold in stores to consumers like you.

Dine delightedly

Since you spent the day contemplating the wonders of the supermarket produce aisle and of textile creation, you have gained appreciation for farming already. Like, you totally wouldn’t want to do it yourself but you get why humans still need people who know how to work the earth (we can’t live off of our social media feeds alone!).

Farm-to-table.
Ruggedly refined. (Max Pixel)

Take your newfound understanding of nature to a whole new level by dining at a farm-to-table restaurant that boasts local sources. The benefits will be immediate, even before you begin eating.

While your eyes will delight in the constructed rustic atmosphere—gingham tablecloths, mason jar wine-glasses, wildflower sprigs in the restroom, bearded server in flannel shirt, etc.—your spirit can breathe a sigh of relief. Thank goodness for restaurants, cities, and the fact that you don’t have to farm or even make your meals!

Cheers

Indulge. Fine things all originate in nature—coffee, booze, chocolate, cashmere, lavender, and you, for example. There’s no finer tribute to the Earth for a hedonist than to recognize this by thoughtfully enjoying the simple pleasures that make being on the planet delightful every day. So, have a drink, take a bath, don fine clothes, smoke, or do them all! Just do you, naturally.

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