WATERCOOLER: Are we too ‘safe’ for old-fashioned fun?
I'M on a new medication.
It's one proven to ease depression, improve my health outlook, sharpen my focus and strengthen my immunity.
It's called "the bush" and, no, another word for it isn't weed.
The health benefits of being outdoors are wide and varied and are the focus of a large number of research studies worldwide.
The University of Michigan found nature walks were linked to enhanced mental health, a study published in Psychological Science showed interacting with nature improved attention levels and other studies found benefits for immunity.
So, theoretically, I'm not on holiday as we travel around Australia in a pop-up van, I'm on a mental health retreat.
I've also decided to toss out some of the restrictions that come with my 'medication' in the name of health and safety.
I know there is a risk in jumping off rocks into deep canyons. We could slip and hurt ourselves, but it was oh so very worth it.
How do you put a value on watching your seven-year-old daughter conquer her fears and amaze her brothers as she jumps six metres off rocks into deep water?
I know three of us on a one-man-blow-up canoe paddling down Katherine Gorge without lifejackets would be seriously frowned upon as "irresponsible".
But hey, I can't remember when last my sons (who shared the boat with me) laughed as hard as we tried to figure out our seating arrangement with Sam (13) sprawled out in the front, me in the seat and Tom (12) clinging on at the back.
I reckon we were more of a tourist attraction for those doing the gorge the responsible way, on a cruise, as so many took photos of us.
We did too, but sadly Sam's camera became a victim of the rock jumping as he dropped it in the river while trying to help his brother climb a tricky bit.
Even the ranger pretended to close his ears as we shared our 'dangerous' exploits.
And then we had a chat on the difficulty National Parks was having in encouraging more children to get to the bush to experience the well-researched health benefits.
He was saying how the latest thinking is Parks needs to become more interactive by including an online element.
I say "how sad".
We all need to learn to live a little and take a few calculated risks and we shouldn't be allowed to sue when we've done something a little crazy and it goes wrong.
We've become so 'cottonwoolled', some psychologists are seriously thinking incorporating the internet into the outdoors is going to make it more interesting.
I think they probably just think it will be easier, safer and less of a liability for Parks to manage - and it will be.
You don't have to worry about rescuing people with broken legs if their experience is through a computer screen.
But it's so important we don't let this happen.
Don't let politicians, lawyers and bureaucrats water down the beauty of having fun in the bush.
I reckon the mental health risk of doing this is far greater.
What do you think about this? Have we become 'cottonwooled'? Do you live a little and take a few calculated risks? Or have we become too 'safe' for old-fashioned fun?
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What you're saying on Facebook:
Stuart Everson: "It would seem the older we get , the more we desire to become one with nature, after all, we are destined to return to the earth, may as well get to know it better."
Jake Watson: "Once we introduced the lolly pop lady we stopped the stupid kids from being run over. Now we are stuck protecting them as adults making allowances for the lowest common denominator."
Debra Suzanne Porritt: "We sure are!!! Too many rules and regs these days, it has gone past the point of common sense protection, now we are at the stage of ridiculous."
Aaron Griffiths: "Life should be like entering one of those tough mudder races. If you want to participate, you sign a death waiver and have a crack with no fall back to sue anyone unless they are completely negligent in providing the facilities. No waiver no play. Ha ha."
Roselyn Waters: "If you didnt take risks how boring would you become?"