Issue 012: The Great Outdoors

When we step away from our work, we discover insights that make us better at whatever we do. As Jonathan Fields writes in his book Uncertainty, sometimes it is undoing that plants the seeds for the greatest doing (p. 165).

You know it’s true if you’ve ever pursued work creatively. You know it’s true if you work on Capitol Hill or in a city, and you’ve taken a trip away for several days. Suddenly, you find a wide open road; or the view of the National Mall slips away under the wing of your plane, the day-to-day stress slipping out of your mind too.

You touch down somewhere west of the Mississippi, perhaps, leave the airport, and the landscape and western air make you want to melt into the earth. You’d give the land and sky a big hug but there’s no way your arms could reach, it’s so wide open there.

You can tell a lot about a local culture by the vibe of its airport. In San Diego, everyone is suntanned and at ease. You can’t fly through Denver without suddenly having an obsession with climbing mountains and eating bison jerky. In Orlando, it’s all Mickey Mouse ears and families from the Midwest, including grandparents.

But when you land at Reagan National, it’s all business. Everyone is very important, very well dressed, and very much in a hurry.

Maybe what our city needs—to discover a deeper knowledge of freedom—is a little more wind on our faces, a little sunburn, a scent from a memory that should never be forgotten. Maybe our senses are telling us something. Maybe we need to jump into an ice-cold lake, stay up late around a beach-side campfire with friends, or let the desert sun sap the sweat right out of us, leaving us parched. Maybe coming to our senses in politics is literally as simple as coming to our senses. Maybe we just need to feel again.

What if, while we explore, we take notes of all we've learned? And what if there's more truth for political culture hidden in the beautiful wide open spaces than we've ever imagined? 

You can read part one of the series on the great outdoors below.