You Can Experience the Beauty of the Outdoors, Even with Duchenne

You Can Experience the Beauty of the Outdoors, Even with Duchenne
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Hawk's Eye View

It’s hard to find time to spend outside, especially since I have a disease that hampers my mobility, but being outdoors reinvigorates and reboots me, and reconnects me to nature and God.

During weekends I could lie under the covers well into the afternoon and watch HBO’s original series on my phone until the sun sets. That’s an inviting image, but not sustainable.

We’re designed to spend time outside. For millennia, humans hunted wild animals and gathered nuts, mushrooms, and berries to survive. Inherently, we long to be outside, not isolated at home. 

With Duchenne, it’s easy to become isolated by fear over abilities and logistical realities — I’ve been there. We need to be outside, though, alone or with friends. 

Georgetown waterfront. (Photo by Hawken Miller)

I wrote part of this column on the Georgetown waterfront, right on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. The tree I was sitting under provided the perfect amount of shade on a sweltering day. I watched rowing teams practice, their oars slapping against the river synchronously. Not far behind, their coach followed them in a small motorboat. “Chins up!” she yelled through a megaphone. 

Long grass framed the opposite shore of the river. The breeze cut through the baking heat, causing the trees to whisper thier original music. It evaporated the sweat beading up on my skin. 

It’s like I’m part of nature in that place, among the blue sky, the green grass, and the turbulent turquoise water. I’m meant to be there. The ability to be alone or together in nature is a gift that people with Duchenne must embrace.

Outside in the ancient city of Huế, Vietnam. (Photo by Paul Miller)

Playing video games is surely entertaining and feeds my introversion, but it isn’t anything like experiencing God’s perfect creation for myself. Why not enjoy life outside my room while I have the chance? It’s a privilege to feel the wind flow through my hair and breathe fresh air, watch people walk their big, small, medium, fluffy, fat, or scrawny dogs. 

You don’t need to ski down a double black diamond slope, compete in the U.S. Open of Surfing, or climb El Capitan. All it takes is a second to reflect and be one with the world, wherever you might be. 

What’s even better is getting myself to the pool or some other body of water to swim. It’s one of the few activities I don’t have to strain to do. I can only stand on my own for minutes at a time, yet I can float on my back for hours in the pool. 

Scuba diving with my parents in the British Virgin Islands. (Photo by Paul Miller)

Buoyancy negates my 9.8 m/s² gravitational acceleration toward Earth. It isn’t a burden to be on my feet while I’m in the water, since my weight is supported by the force of water pushing back up at me. Plus, I get the aerobic benefits of using my muscles in a way that is not damaging. It’s the closest thing to a workout I have.

Swimming and being outside require no extra energy, aside from the mental effort to get myself out of my apartment. 

These simple things ground me in my Creator and refresh my mind and body in a way that isn’t possible through TV or video games. It’s easy to seclude myself from the outside world because of my physical inability. I assure you, however, that’s not the best way forward.


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Chris Comish serves as the Publisher of the website, and is responsible for directing the editorial focus as well as putting the finishing touches on many featured articles.