I spent most of the day outside Monday, and I felt calmer and more focused and more centered and, just happier.
I know that things, politically, running-for-officewise, are only going to get worse, as state and local campaigns begin in earnest in the coming weeks. People will be arguing and blaming, exaggerating and posturing (see definition 13), and, well, lying (not everybody, but some of the bodies). Things will become more and more tense as we wend our way to November. By election day, I know that I’ll be weary of it all.
I think we could all benefit from spending some time out of doors.
All the candidates, over the next weeks and months, should be required to spend time outside. Even those candidates who have to be guarded by Secret Service agents. Maybe especially those candidates who are under guard all the time. You can’t tell me that the Secret Service folks don’t have the power to empty out a park so that a candidate can walk around, safely, enjoying the trees and the flowers and the clouds and the blue sky, completely uninterrupted for an hour or so each day.
AND, don’t tell me that they don’t have time for wandering around each day. As busy and overworked and over scheduled and frazzled as they are at the end of every day? They NEED an hour of contemplative, uninterrupted thoughtfulness. It could be the key to making some good decisions, formulating some helpful strategies. And if it happens outside, all the better.
It could be early, early in the morning. Watching a sunrise or two each week? Who wouldn’t find that inspiring! It could be late, late at night. Tracking the phases of the moon over four weeks time? That can only improve a busy, over-worked candidate’s appreciation for orderliness and careful planning.
We, as the ordinary folks who are the targets of all the television, radio, and online politicking, deserve messages from people who have put in thoughtful, sensible, and honest information that will actually HELP us make good decisions. And candidates can’t be thoughtful if they’re spending all their time in planes, trains, and automobiles, and inside halls, auditoriums, and smoke-filled-rooms.
Here’s the scenario I want to hear about: A candidate gets out of a heavily guarded limousine, on the way to a political function. At the door, the candidate is stopped and a federal official says, “I’m sorry. You can’t speak here, yet. You haven’t logged in your hour of outside time today.” It’s akin to toddlers and naptime. They’re just so much easier to deal with and so much more pleasant to be around if they’ve had their afternoon naps. Same with a candidate, I think. Sooo much nicer after an hour outdoors.
Umbrellas and rain boots are all right. Big coats are okay; winter’s on the way. And they don’t even have to walk around. They can sit comfortably in a nice, covered pavilion. They can relax, resting on a little bridge. However, riding from hole to hole in a golf cart can’t count. (Honestly!)
AND–they have to be alone. COMPLETELY alone. No aides. Nobody with papers in their hands. Not a schedule in sight. NOTHING. Just the candidate and the sky and the clouds and the flora and fauna of wherever they happen to be at that point in their political travels. Trees or large cactus plants. Ocean or creek. Trails, lakes, little ponds. Flowery meadows, flashing seas,* purple mountains majesties, amber waves of grain.** Whatever nature happens to be wherever they’ve traveled to or wherever they live. An hour. Every day.
Now that’s some campaigning I can get behind.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:11 (New Revised Standard Version)
One hour. Outside. Every day. Alone. Okay. Maybe they don’t have to actually be completely alone. If security isn’t an issue, there can certainly be other people in the park—picnicking, hiking on a trail, lolling by the beach. But nobody else who’s part of the campaign and all its parched places. At all.
*From the hymn Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, text by Henry Van Dyke
** From America, the Beautiful, text by Katharine Lee Bates