I discovered a few days ago that the average person in the U.S. spends 23 out of 24 hours indoors. I began to think about that, after getting over my shock.

So, 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work, 2 hours commuting (some do 4 or 5?) is 18. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, shower and other ablutions brings it to about 21. You are at 23 in a heartbeat. And this doesn’t include any hours spent in front of a television, or playing computer games. Come to think of it, everyone must be rushing through most of the daily activities which we used to allow ourselves longer to complete, or must be multitasking like crazy so as to have any time for anything beyond sleeping, working, commuting, eating, abluting, etc; and we can all agree that here on planet earth, there are only 24 hours in a day, give or take a few seconds. What this means is that there actually IS no time left over for watching TV or playing computer games, or really, for blogging. All this is true even if you factor in weekend activities, like playing baseball, mowing the lawn, water skiing, or sunbathing.

I am lucky not have a TV so it can’t suck the minutes and hours out of my possible outdoor time; but I do have a computer, and I like to go to youtube, or facebook, or gmail, or noaa.gov to a) look at videos of Glenn Gould playing Bach’s “Art of the Fugue” b) say hello to a friend electronically, c) check the latest satellite imagery and projected path of the latest hurricane, or d) go to wickipedia and get information on the history of the lute.

I have decided that I have to spend at least one hour per day out of doors, and preferably two or three, and that if any of us are to spend any time outdoors, we are all going to have to make a concerted effort to place our selves outdoors for more than 7 hours per week. I am not even getting into the quality of our outdoor time. How about being in a place where there is no noise pollution or light pollution? A place that smells great, and where you can see the stars in their millions. A place where you are cradled in the mossy bosom of an old forest, or having your feet bathed by a high lunar tide which has crept up into the upper reaches of a marsh, or lain down in a high mountain meadow just to watch clouds and be enjoined by a tiny wildflower dancing in the wind.

My soul wants this every day, needs this every day. I MUST!



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12 Responses to 23

  1. hagbah says:

    I empathize with the feelings you expressed. It seems likely to me that the disturbingly high percentage of indoor time has been a fact of working people’s lives going well back into the 19th century. Think of coal miners, or factory workers in the time of 12 hour days, 6 days a week. Living on the prairie or high mountains in the winter in those days must have involved being shut in much of the time to keep warm. For myself, I am a bicycle commuter, so I am almost always outside everyday at least for about 75 min. Spring through Fall I sometimes do light gardening chores after work before dinner; in winter, there’s snow to shovel. Still I often wish I’d chosen forestry or field biology for my profession so I’d be working out of doors most of the time instead of being cooped up in an office in front of a computer.

    • Oen,

      I wish that folks did indeed spend time outside….it is so beautiful…I spend time everyday outside mostly after work but most definitely on weekends…I look at the sky alot because it is so beautiful…I go out every night (or try to) to look at the stars….I love being outside in the fall and early winter. It just takes a little effort to stop and step away from all the distractions of electronics and go out just to look at a tree or a flower of take a walk even if you are in the city…try going to a local park or take a quick ride a pond or the beach….

    • Oen Kennedy says:


      I just read a book by Emile Zola called “Germinal” about the plight of coal miners in France in the 1860’s. The lives those folks lived were truly terrifying, compared with today’s standard of living. You are absolutely right — 12 hours underground — but even then I think people were outside more. I am glad for you and admire your bicycle commuting. Thank you for your response. Oen

  2. Right on,son!! Applauding for your sensible thoughts, and encouragement to all of us to take a look at what is consuming the hours in a day. Just spent an hour and a half walking the roads, rocks, pastures and grasses of our sacred Annisquam in my bare feet. Spent another 2 hours in the garden this morning. Feeling good about this. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  3. Kate says:

    So….uke lessons on the back deck??

    • Oen Kennedy says:

      Great idea Kate! We can do that at least after the snow has melted, the blackflies have gone by, the mosquitoes and deer flies are gone, and before it gets too cold. So yeah, late March, and then late September into October!

  4. As I get older I find myself CRAVING the outdoors more and more. It’s actually more than a craving, it’s a pull… like a magnetic force trying to draw me to woods, or the lake, or the mountains. I am lucky enough to spend a reasonable amount of time walking/running outside so I’m thinking it has to do with needing more reflective / meditative time. This blog is so timely and I hope it will inspire others to think about seeking the world outside their home or office. Thank you Oen!

    • Oen Kennedy says:

      I heard two Barred Owls talking to each other by the Rutbergs last week Ruthann. It was within the territory of the owl we saw together, so I am sure one of them was him/her! Owls a for me one of the primary manifestations of wildness, and it is not surprising to me that you have tuned into them so strongly.

  5. Barbara says:

    I lose track of time outside with my friends! They tell me when it’s 4 PM, without fail. 3 cardinals, chickadees…and my striped sentinels, led by the queen of chipmunks, Stubbs! They bring me joy.
    Blades of grass between my toes, and chipmunks on my shoulders, a chickadee on my fingertip.
    My heaven!
    xo birdie

  6. Sara Wright says:

    It is almost winter which means less time spent outdoors because of weather which makes walking more challenging even if one doesn’t include the wind. But I will persevere! Nature calls us to Her no matter what time of year.

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