The Transition Generation

The Outdoor Illusion, Part 1

January 28, 2012
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The Great Outdoors – it’s not just a funny movie starring the late, great John Candy. It’s that thing outside your window with the tall leafy things, small bushy things, and sweet smelling colorful petal-ed things with animals of all shapes and sizes.

The outdoors means something different to everyone, I’ve found. To some the outdoors is the urban park they visit in a city, or a more traditional park with picnic benches, barbecue grills, and paths for hiking, running, or biking. It can be the neighborhood in which they go walking or running each morning, or it’s the thing they avoid at all costs.

To members of Generation T, or the Transition Generation, the outdoors can seem a challenge.  Through interviews I’ve conducted with people from SE Asia, Central & South America, and other places, here’s a few things I’ve learned.

  • Some cultures see the outdoors as work – farming, agriculture, pasture land that must be maintained for livelihood, but not necessary for long life.  Recreation just doesn’t enter their thoughts when they consider the outdoors.
  • Others see the outdoors not for recreation, but just as a way from getting from Point A to Point B.
  • To some cultures, the outdoors was simply not a safe place to go.  Even getting simple things like food is a challenge, so there’s no need to spend unnecessary time outside.
  • Still others fear the outdoors.  Someone mentioned to me that while they, who are Gen T-ers, didn’t mind and enjoyed recreating outdoors, their immigrant parents were very adverse to it.  Some stated that it wasn’t even because of the outdoors itself but because of the uniforms – the Park Ranger uniforms, they say, too closely resemble the Border Patrol uniforms and, even though they are in the country legally, they are still wary when seeing them.
  • And yet, there are even those who just can’t grasp the concept of recreating outdoors.  Sports they understand, but beyond that they don’t see an appeal to hike, bike, walk, or even picnic outside.  Maybe they just don’t know where to start.

And then there is American culture, where your exposure to the beauty and wonder of the outdoors varies depending on the state and city in which you live (and not only that but if you are living in the city itself or a suburban area).  A lot of people I’ve spoken to have brought up the Nature vs Nurture debate, stating that if the parents are interested the kids will be and I do agree with that to a certain extent. But consider my situation (which is the same as some other Gen T-ers) whose parents were not “into the outdoors” but the kids found it all the same. Whether it was due to the influence of school recess (equating freedom to a child with the outdoors always works, don’t you think?), the influence of friends or other people in the child’s life, they all discovered the power and wonder of the outdoors.

The outdoors in general don’t get a lot of attention, even in these modern times or possibly because of them.   They mean something different to everyone and, just like British comedy or the opera, they tend to either love, hate it, or at least appreciate it even if they don’t get it.  (In case you were wondering, I adore British comedy.)

This is just the first in a series of blogs about the outdoors which I’ll write this year, so I hope you come back and join the conversation.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below.

Thanks for reading!



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    First generation born and raised American, and member of the Transition Generation © (aka Generation T ©). Join me as I discuss the struggles and joys I have faced as an American. What's your story?


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