Recreational Pursuits

An excerpt from the Passionate Earth: The Evolution of Our Relationship with the Natural World by John Del Signore. I will be posting new articles to this site on a regular basis.

In primal cultures, recreational pursuits were carried out in local villages and in surrounding environments. Rituals and ceremonies were an important aspect of connecting with each other socially and emotionally and with their habitat. Being in nature, walking and exploring the local landscapes, was a primary activity that helped with the overall process of growth and maturation. Recreational activities were tied to what the biosphere naturally offered.

Today recreational pursuits often take on a very different flavor. Although hiking, camping, backpacking, climbing, paddling, cycling and other outdoor sports can be enjoyed at a low-tech level, many of our recreational activities are heavily influenced by technological devices that are either motorized or electronically oriented. We have invented numerous kinds of motorized vehicles and watercraft for entering wilderness areas and portable music systems and electronic games to accompany us on our daily outings. Many people are using cell phones while engaging in pleasurable activities, listening to music or playing hand-held video games and are not totally attending to what they are doing.

The modern worldview of domination and exploitation often rears its ugly head during recreational activities in the form of aggressive and egotistical fun, challenging the environment, being loud and boisterous, daring one another in risky behaviors, employing alcohol and drugs to heighten experiences and an overall focus on self-indulgence and self-gratification. The function of recreation as a source of enjoyment, either alone or with others to satisfy psychological needs, has been routinely replaced by pathological behaviors that interfere with obtaining critical emotional needs and that inhibit healthy growth and development.


Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered by Bill Devall and George Sessions, 1985 by Gibbs M. Smith, Inc. Character and Culture, pp. 185-186.

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