McKean Minute: Get Outside This Interdependence Day

You read both parts of that sentence correctly. The first part is easy to understand. Get outside. Go fish. Go camp. Have a picnic. Lay on a blanket and look up at the clouds.

The second part takes a little ‘splaining.

It’s Independence Day, America’s 242nd birthday. The Fourth of July. A celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and a statement to our British overlords that the American colonies would stand alone as 13 sovereign states.

But I’d argue that as much as the declaration asserts independence, it also makes a strong case for interdependence. Those 13 colonies had to stand together, to rely on each other and to present a unified front in the fight against the world’s reigning superpower that culminated in the creation of America.

I mention this because I think outdoor recreation—the kind that’s come to define how many of us Americans celebrate our national holiday—is equal parts independence and interdependence. As humans, we crave the freedom we get from the outdoors, the ability to explore, seek, and traverse a world unbound by walls or wifi. But think about the best days you’ve had outdoors. They were probably made even better by the company of someone – your kids, your buddy, your spouse, or your parents.

A buddy’s first time ever seeing an elk on a camping trip in Yellowstone.

Now think of how you got juiced about the outdoors in the first place. It was because someone, maybe your father or a sibling or a good friend, introduced you to the wide, wild world. That’s interdependence. Even those of us who find solace in the solitude of the outdoors started with a dependency, being shown places and skills by someone who knew more than we did.

When this interdependency works, it’s self-perpetuating—just as national independence is. The Americans who came before you have given you these great self-evident truths: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

If your pursuit of happiness is being outdoors, then perpetuate that great American tradition by showing someone else how to fish, camp, picnic, and lay under the clouds.

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