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Times of the Islands Magazine

Islanders on the Move - Where Mother Earth is the playing field

Jan 02, 2016 09:03AM ● By Cory Batelaan
Where Mother Earth is the playing field

By Dr. Randall Niehoff

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”  —Yogi Berra

The first few weeks of the new year mark the last few weeks of the NFL season. What began outdoors on a practice field ends in the explosive excitement of the most watched game of sport in America: the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, here on our islands’ beaches, the greatest outdoor sporting event in the world occurs everyday, and anyone can play. All you have to do is stand or sit quietly at the shoreline and gaze intently at the eastern horizon, the crest of the hill over which the sun and moon make their appearance. You are perched on the leading edge of the largest ball we can get our hands on (the life-giving sphere we call Mother Earth). As you occupy that spot, you are moving with the grace of an Olympian in multiple directions all at once, at speeds that are infinitely faster than super.

Science has discovered that our “Earthball” dances with the stars, demonstrating raw athleticism as it busts a move. We fellow riders are twirled along like dancers following our partner’s lead. Ours is a front-row seat on the face of a terrestrial missile that is streaking through space around the closest star at 69,361 miles per hour. At the same time we are diving down over that horizon as our planet barrel-rolls toward the east at 1,037 miles per hour. And if you’re not dizzy yet, imagine the effects of our solar system drifting, our Milky Way galaxy swirling, and the whole universe expanding—all at a pace Nascar can only dream about. Talk about your “outdoor sports.”

Justifiably proud of our intellectual ability to recognize all this movement, it is still a mark of our unique humanity to raise the old question: but where are we going? Yogi Berra said it well:  “We’re lost, but we’re making good time.”

Those who live, work, visit and recreate on our gulf coast islands embody a response to that ancient query: the spirit of our times demonstrates less concern with the destination and more focus on the journey. Encoded in our local governmental laws and embodied in almost everyone’s personal behavior are these positive and healthy styles of “travel”:

  • Outdoor livinggratitude and respect for nature and its creatures and a joyful determination to conserve and care for our blessed and favored environment;
  • Good sportsmanship—inclusive housing, recreation and education; government officials responsive to citizens and businesses to customers; broad volunteerism in civic, charitable, religious and service organizations; widely supported commitment to being good neighbors (for example, on the sports field one plays as a competitor; on the road one drives or bikes as a colleague).
So, when you are on the islands, come along for the ride—by whatever means you prefer to move.

Dr. Randall Niehoff has lived on Sanibel since 1991.