In a few weeks my son's class is going to Joshua Tree for a two-night camping trip. Two nights in the outdoors. Dear God. As the ranger details the various outdoor activities that my son will be doing, I begin to have an anxiety attack. I'm not a big fan of outdoor activities. I am a big fan of air-conditioning. I hate heat. Heat and hay fever. And touching greenery. I like looking at greenery. But if I touch anything green, I'm gone. I start scratching myself like a crazy man. And, mind you, I don't stop. At least until I've gone home and showered in cool water. After that I'd probably take a nap. It doesn't have anything to do with the itching. I'll just feel like a nap at that point. So sue me. After some time with greenery, if I want a nap that's my business. I also hate spiders and snakes, though I like lizards. They're like little dinosaurs that eat insects. I'm also not a big fan of hiking. I love to walk. But I enjoy walking through a city, not amidst rocks and greenery. I loathe rock climbing, too -- I shouldn't climb anything except stairs. And caves, I'm afraid of caves. I'm crazy claustrophobic. Have I left anything out? Oh yeah, the sun. I don't burn easily, but I get rather dizzy if I'm in the sun too long.
I hope I don't come off as too much of a wimp by admitting all of that. Because I'm really not. As a matter of fact, if you put me in an air-conditioned room in some office building in New York City, I'm as tough as the next guy.
The activities my son will be forced to endure include climbing, helmets, and rocks. Apparently they will be climbing under boulders. Under boulders! I run outside to the parking lot for some air, and I feel like throwing up. Minutes later my wife comes out. She is completely unconcerned about my health. Instead, she makes me promise that I won't mention my reservations about the trip to my son. But I know that he's my son (which means he loves the outdoors about as much as I do; I'm not sure he even likes looking at it), and when he finds out the sh** they're going to do, he's going to be furious. He's going to want to come home. Oh dear God, I want to save him!
Standing by myself in the parking lot, I realize that I am conflicted about my desire to be green. Well, not as conflicted as that a**hole at the car wash. I want to do my part to make the planet cleaner and healthier; I want us all to have a future on this Earth, especially my sons. I recycle religiously -- even other people's trash. I know that global warming is real. I know that natural beauty needs to be preserved. I know that I need to do more. But the last place I want to go is back to nature. Please don't make me go back to nature. I want to go back to my couch. And then maybe I'll watch the documentary Planet Earth. In Blu-ray. I'll see nature the way it was meant to be seen. From my couch.
This excerpt has been re-printed with permission of the publisher.