Outdoor Diary: The Gift of Deep Conversation Outside

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The outdoors offers space — both physical and mental — for deep thought and conversation. And when it comes to sorting through the racial issues with which America is grappling right now, it’s the perfect setting for tough stuff. Here’s how Amy experienced that this week.

Some of the good stuff:

[:31]  Why outdoor conversations are so great

[1:15] How Amy is addressing this Moment in our culture with her sons

[1:38] What Amy’s family did to listen last week

[1:54] Protesting as a family

[2:30] Answering big questions

[3:26] This week’s outdoor hero

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Follow us on Instagram and share your outdoor life with the hashtag #humansoutside365.


Here’s an edited transcript of this installment of Amy’s outdoor diary on The Humans Outside Podcast. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.  

One of the many gifts of time outside is the blessing of conversation.

Maybe it’s that we aren’t distracted. Maybe it’s that there’s just a lot more close contact than usual. Maybe the secret sauce is movement and the power of that campfire where we linger and stare into the flames and let our minds rest. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. 

Whatever the reason, I am grateful for this gift nature has given me. It gives me a place to have time with my family and friends like family, and walks us gently into places where we can chat through the tough stuff, create connection, talk about who we are and who we are becoming, grapple with the big things, become better, more, closer, wiser. 

There’s plenty of tough conversations to have right now. Our nation and culture is having a Moment with a capital “M,” and as a white woman raising white little boys, I am not just freshly aware of my privilege and biases, I am really confronting the ways that it has influenced me at a depth I have done before. 

For us, the outdoors is the perfect place to have these conversations. This weekend as we gathered at the campground, we had many of these moments. Our next door neighbors who are like my kids’ grandparents swung by and we spent hours just listening to them. 

He is black, she is a white mom to three black boys. Their experiences matter and opened our eyes more and more. 

And then there was the march. Even in our peaceful, thoughtful little town, there was nervousness about violence, especially when a counter-protest group announced they would be there. We went as a family, determined to show-up. We held signs — love your neighbor more than yourself; respect black lives; I will never understand, but I can stand. 

But those three hours in the sun, moving and chanting and exercising our rights and showing up for our neighbors sparked more questions from my sons who are 8 and 11 and only now having their eyes opened to the world at all, much less to these complexities. Huck, the youngest, noticed stern-looking men wandering the crowd with video cameras. 

“Are they mad at us?” He asked. “Could we be arrested for doing this?”

No. No.

And then there were questions about what they saw. I asked them to think of their questions and then we would answer and talk about them for as long as they liked when we were done. We chatted through questions or an hour around the campfire and again as we were falling asleep in our tent. 

“What does ‘I can’t breathe,’ mean,” Dave asked.

And we told him. There, lying in our tent, it was a stark juxtaposition to the world of equity and safety we have taught him is fundamental for all. 

We’ll have more of these conversations, more grappling with hard stuff in the outdoors for years to come. And I’m grateful to nature for facilitating that. 

Speaking of our tent, if you’ve been wondering what we use, it’s the REI Kingdom 8. We jokingly call it the Taj Mahal, because it’s seriously huge. I could live quite happily there for a long time. You can walk around in it, store all of your items in the garage attachment if you need to. It’s our outdoor hero of the week because I love it so much.

You can catch photos of our outdoor time, including us at the protest, by hitting up @humansoutside on Instagram. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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