Outside, anyone?

“I believe people should go outside more.”

That disarmingly profound thought is one of 30 things that seven-year-old Tarak McLain believes, as featured recently on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition in January 2009. Tarak’s simple declarative sentence reminds us to plug in more often, as we debate this proposal or that, to the engine of everything: our blue-green planet. That we often don’t comes down to culture.

Culture, in the anthropological sense, is a bubble. It’s a wrap-around that’s kept our large-brained species alive long enough to furiously debate – and often blithely ignore – our change-wreaking effects on climate, among other things. It’s also a bubble that blinds us, as we madly dash each day from fossil-warmed home to fossil-fueled car to a cocoon of an office and back home again for a dose of stultified hours staring at a box designed to whip us up into consumerist froth.

I think when Tarak says to go outside, he means go outside and see. See the dawn pyrotechnics of the sun as it breaks the fast of light called night. See the glorious sky-blue that colors the razor-thin layer of air we breathe.

He means go outside and listen. Listen to the summery metronomic drone of dog-day cicadas. Listen to the liquid glissades of a Baltimore oriole.

He means go outside and just plain feel. Feel what it’s like to breathe in fog-tinged air. Feel what it’s like to sip lemonade on a red-checkered cloth in the middle of a meadow.

If you think about what Tarak urges us to do and then do it, you might be reminded that culture is a bubble within a bubble. And here’s the rub: The big bubble’s heating up, and the longer the people in the little bubble dither, the faster the little bubble bubbles and eventually pops, leaving culture – and us – in a ragtag heap.

So let’s caretake what we see outside by knowing what our policies and presidents and pronouncements must do: Keep our earthly home a haven.