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Outdoor therapy

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POSTED January 29, 2012 10:09 p.m.

Over the years I’ve been writing this column, I often refer to the fact that just being outdoors is good therapy for me. Whenever I get wound up and agitated, an outdoor excursion seems to help relieve the tension. Although fishing is my favorite outdoor pastime, I also get peace of mind from hunting, photography, plinking tin cans or just a walk in the woods.

I recall one occasion years ago when I was keyed up about something I can’t even remember now. It seemed as though I had been existing on Rolaids, and there was a nervous tremor in my hands. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon so I decided to go for a drive to unwind. At one point I realized I wasn’t far from the home of my old debate coach, Ernie Poletti. I stopped in to say hello, and before I knew it, Coach Poletti, had me outfitted with a spare shotgun and we were on our way to hunt quail. The wind was blowing a gale and drove the raindrops so hard that they stung my face. The quail seemed to fly as least 50 miles per hour and I missed every shot I made, Hunting with Coach Poletti was always an exercise in humility, since he made almost every shot he fired.

The day drew to a close and we were walking back to the car, cold wet and tired. Although I should have felt like an idiot, amazingly enough I felt great. Cold, wet, and tired, but great non-the less. I thought how great it would be to sit in front of the fire feeling warm and cozy and drinking a hot toddy listening to the rain and wind outside. Somehow it seems that you appreciate even the simplest things like warmth and food and shelter when you’ve done without them for awhile.

On Monday morning I got up and headed for the office. I waved to the parking lot attendant, exchanged pleasantries with the elevator operator, and geared up for another week of phone calls, and red tape. As the week went on, I felt more and more like telling someone to attempt to do something that is anatomically impossible. It’s at times like that when I look out the window and see pigeons wheeling in the breeze and think back to the previous weekend and my encounter with the wind and sky and rain. After a moment or two, I snap out of my trance and smile and get on with solving another problem.

A while back, I learned that it costs the state about $70,000 a year to treat a patient in a mental hospital, about $50,000 a year to house an adult convict and even more to treat youthful offenders.

It sure seems to me that for the cost of a tankful of gas and a tackle boxful of fishing equipment, it might be great alternative therapy. Am I suggesting that outdoor therapy can take the place pf shrinks and prison guards? Not on your life! I am suggesting, however that spending time outdoors might just help prevent you from going off the deep end to begin with. If it only keeps one person out of ten somewhat normal, it’s a lot cheaper than building more psych hospitals and prisons.

If you want to help maintain your sanity, spend more time outdoors!

 

Until next week,

Tight Lines

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