The Great Outdoors

I always pause when “love of the great outdoors” is invoked,
For it raises awkward questions, and I find I am provoked –
Not to question the sincerity of any love that’s so confessed
Nor the greatness of what lies beyond – we can but be impressed,
For doors are potent portals, thresholds of the in-between
That join two worlds, that draw a veil, over mysteries unseen.

Why do I pause and ponder each time I hear that phrase?
It’s because of what it stands for, and the mindset it betrays,
For when we say “the great outdoors”, we really mean to say
That nature, wild and beautiful, is “out there”, far away,
As if our lives were separate, a world apart, a life inside
And nature stands opposed, beyond ourselves, the chasm wide.

No wonder, then, that we ignore, neglect, exploit, abuse,
For nature is objectified, she’s there for us to use,
And so, we grub and grope and grab, and pay with tips of waste;
At best, we find her pleasure zones, then leave again in haste.
It seems to me a sordid tale of domination, master-slave
In which we feed our appetites, try to possess what we so crave.

‘That’s just not true!’ I hear you cry, ‘It’s not like that at all,
We love our nature, fair and green, we’re ever in its thrall.
We visit her great wilderness, we even pick our trash;
Your accusations are a lie, your arguments are rash!
And even in the city, you’ll often find us in the park
(Although it’s not a place to be alone and after dark)’.

I hear your plea, I empathise, I feel that way myself sometimes,
And yet the way you speak of nature clearly underlines
How separate you have become, how dumb and deaf and blind,
For you and nature are the same, with destinies entwined.
There is no door between us, no gap to step beyond,
For nature is our only home, a living web, our family bond.

So, when next someone you know invokes “the great outdoors”,
Reflect on what they mean and if you share their subtle cause,
For nature’s no more outdoors than nature’s in our homes
And in our hearts, our minds and blood, and in our very bones;
Nature is the loom of life, the warp and weft with which we weave
And every thread we cut or mend affects the legacy we leave.

I love that you love nature, which simply means you love yourself,
But nature’s not an elixir, a tonic for your mental health;
It’s every living thing on earth, and how we are connected;
It’s the microbe and the Milky Way as images reflected;
It’s great for sure, both out and in and every way you see it,
For nature’s us and we are nature – we only need to be it.

Wayne Visser © 2023


Wishing Leaves: Favourite Nature Poems

This creative collection, now in its 3rd edition, brings together nature poems by Wayne Visser, celebrating the diversity, beauty and ever-changing moods of our planet. The anthology includes many old favourites like “I Think I Was a Tree Once” and “A Bug’s Life”, as well as brand new poems like “Monet’s Dream” and “The Environmentalist”. Then as we turned our faces to the moon / Our hands entwined, our hearts in sync, in tune / We felt the fingers of the silken breeze / And made our wishes on the falling leaves / A gust of wind set off a whispered sigh / Among the trees that leaned against the sky.  Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.