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It’s Time to Occupy Nature

Bring a tent. Plan to camp outdoors. Here’s a movement we can all support.      

Nothing brings on real change like spending a night in a tent. Everywhere in America, people are camping out right now because they crave something truly different—and we can’t help but support anyone who decides to spend time outdoors.

Yes, we know what’s really at stake. We understand the movement. But there’s something revolutionary being overlooked as people occupy tents: The fact is, people are actually camping out again, spending nights out in the cool air, right on the ground, waking up to the outdoors. And that’s a movement we should all support.

You might have noticed this trend. Tent camping isn’t what it used to be. Camping out in the fresh air has become that healthy thing other people do. Fit people. It’s become the New Year’s resolution we never keep. We know camping is good for us, and we make mental notes about our good intentions. Yet, somewhere between resolving to go camping and getting there, our cell phone rings and we return to our digital world, we send a few text messages, then we no longer have any intention of going camping.

This is our American life indoors. We’ve all become a nation of indoor people, and we really ought to know better. Some of us, for the record, actually do go camping every few years, but not often enough. When we go, we sit around the campfire and say things like, “We really need to do this more often,” or, “Let’s plan another camping trip.”

And we really mean it. We are sincerely moved as we watch sparks disappear into the sky. We’re transfixed. It’s the power of nature. When we’re camping, nothing else matters in the world.
But it doesn’t last.

Eventually we go indoors and we forget what happened. It’s why those campers occupying America are doing something right. For those of you who slept in a tent last night, wherever it was, know this: The rest of us truly envy you. Know that you are not alone in your dreams. We indoor people support you, even if it’s from the comfort of our living room. We drive past your tents in our cities and we nod. We understand from a distance that we cannot know that one thing you know.

The thing is, nobody knows what it’s like to be camping unless they’re out there. Nobody remembers what it’s like to camp all night until they’re actually doing it. Memories are tricky that way. Memories recall images, places, moments. But the memory of camping is all we take home.

Someday you’ll realize this when you’re in your own tent, and we hope it’s soon. When you finally get out there, when you crawl into your sleeping bag after watching a campfire subside to coals, you’ll realize there really is no way to preserve the act of being there. You will try. You will sit by a campfire and make vows to remember this life-changing place. But that moment exists only in that place at that moment. It has to be lived.

We’re grateful there are people in America who are doing exactly that right now. We should all be out there with them, falling asleep in nature, living with nature, dreaming of the occupation.


By: Joe McFarland