So I spent the better part of the last 10 days or so in upper-middle Wisconsin, in a town called Rome.
I have a wealthy older brother who retired a few years ago at 40 Ã¢?? Made a bunch of money at EDS, his wife is a Dr, yada yada yada.
Anyways, like any rich happy dude who is still pretty young, he has all sorts of cool toys, and none better than a lake house on a private lake out in the middle of fucking nowhere, only a few hundred miles south of Canada.
A few years ago I turned him on to wakeboarding, which is this crazy death-wish of a sport, in which you ride a board on the water, of which you are strapped in (no escape sissy boy), all the while being pulled by a large motor boat specifically designed to produce the biggest waves possible.
Oh yea, this boat has an 8 cylinder engine, with a few hundred pounds of lead in the back of it, all in the name of spurting out as big as waves as possible. Why you might ask? So when you cross over the wake, your board will hit this tsunami and catapult you five or 10 feet in the air, while you hold onto a rope that is tied to the giant motor powered monster pulling you along for Satan's ride into hell.
Needless to say, my brother doesn't ride much, as he's content with taking it easy in life, remember. He usually chills out, with the boat's steering wheel in one hand and jack and coke in the other.
The good part (or bad, depending upon how you look at it) is that I get to ride all I want, and I share riding duties with his daughter, my 8 year old niece. Now, it isn't too often in life where being 8 years old, 4 feet tall and weighing 65 pounds is an advantage, but wakeboarding seems to be that event.
She is essentially a one man (or woman) wrecking crew on the water. Completely indestructible and un-fatigable. Every crash landing I take from being launched into the air by the tsunami, I cringe in agony as I crash into the water. Her? She is like a piece of rubber. You could throw her off the Empire State Building and I swear she would bounce back up, with her adorable missing teeth smile and pony tail.
After an evening of pounding and crashing into the cement, and that's exactly what the water feels like when your going 25 miles an hour and being launched 10 feet into the air, I usually rest up my bumps and bruises by the camp fire, sipping on a cocktail and having a puff.
And that's when it hits you. You look up into the sky, and you realize you feel connected with nature. The sky is littered with stars. This is something you do not see in the city. The light pollution, smog, noise pollution has removed us from being connected with nature. Is this to our detriment? I believe so. One thing that I always immediately notice, right on the first night at the Lake, and I have been going there for years, is that I sleep like a fucking bear. Passed out, dead to the world, in a serious dream-like state of zombie consciousness.
Science has some interesting answers here. Our pineal gland produces melatonin, a substance that helps put us in deep REM levels of sleep, but it only really does so when your out of the confinements of the city, and in the pleasant surroundings of nature.
In fact, just small amounts of light and noise is enough to affect our delicate sleep systems. Sleep should not be overlooked. In fact, it is crucial to our health.
It is in sleep that our body triggers hormones responsible for cellular repair and formation. Our adrenal glands, which are responsible for the most powerful and potent hormone our body produces, cortisol, are repaired at night.
Growth Hormone, the body's master repair hormone, is secreted at night. It is released periodically within the body in a controlled pulsating fashion. This periodic pattern plays an important role in transmitting the GH "growth, repair & well-being" message to tissue.
Testosterone, another critical hormone to our health and well-being, is also secreted at night to aid in repair and rest.
What does this all mean? I'm not really sure. I know that everyone is different and has different needs, but I seriously think the loud city life is detrimental long term, at least for me, and possibly for everyone, hormonally speaking.
Every time I fall asleep under the country stars, I wake up in the morning feeling rested, refreshed, like a million bucks, despite the fact I typically spent the day smashing myself in a repeated fashion, around in a circle and against every rational law of psychics known to man. A human being isn't meant to travel 25 miles an hour and jump 5 feet into the air on water.
I do know one thing. I have got to get out of southeast Michigan. I've mentioned a few times here about wanting to get out to Portland or Colorado. I can feel the mountain air calling my name, seeking me out, as if it is waiting for someone like me to come test its mettle.
I might not be an indestructible 8 year old, but as long as nature can provide me a blanket of stars to sleep under, I'm still game.