This weekend my wife and I went to see Avatar… In 3D… And all I can say is ‘wow!’

It is more than a cinema trip. It was a full-on cinematic experience – the like of which is massively different from the days I first used to visit the cinema. In fact, Katie and I joked about what our early cinema trips were like as youngsters.

So once we stopped giggling childishly at who looked the funniest in their 3D glasses, the film took us to other worlds, with many different themes and I loved every second of it.

I recently read an article and when asked “what is Avatar about?” This response followed:

It asks questions about our relationship with each other, from culture to culture, and our relationship with the natural world at a time of nature-deficit disorder.

The film itself is still selling out everywhere… It is grossing more than any other and is also supposedly the most expewnsive film of all time… I am guessing that not all will like its political message. Yet I get the real sense from everyone I have encountered from many places around the world that have watched the film, that people are really responding well to the films bigger message: humans pay a price and it takes its toll upon us when we lose touch with the natural world.

Today I am writing about us connecting with the great outdoors.

As a child, I had no choice but to go outside to play… These days I choose to live by the sea so that I can run along the sea front, walk into the countryside and have time connecting with the great outdoors… Within recent decades, new generations of children seem to have disconnected from nature. Some might even think that the widening gap threatens their psychological, physical and spiritual health. And if the trend continues, who will be the true stewards of the Earth?

The issue transcends political, cultural and religious barriers. President Obama has committed to connecting children to nature. This year, the makers of Sesame Street are sending a new message about nature. Many religious communities are doing similar initiatives. it seems that many still consider it as important.

For me, nature has a way of making me feel well and alive… There is something deeply wonderful about my gardens at home and running along the sea front each day… I think people are realising this… There were many families out as the sun shone this weekend, many fellow runners saying good morning to each other and lots of people yearning for the fresh air.

Recent news reports suggest a growing number of families are beginning to venture out of their homes, rediscovering the wonder and restorative powers of nature. Such stories often attribute this to the ‘Great Recession’ and the reemergence of older, less costly values. Though I think renewed importance being placed upon it by so many influential people is telling… And not to mention huge blockbuster films having it as a central theme.

We do not know how long this renewal is likely to be or if it will last past this time of economic hardship… History suggests that we’d be foolish to let this be just a fad…

In 1800, three percent of the world’s population lived in cities, today, more than half of the planet’s 6.8 billion people are urban-dwellers. The trend shows no sign of slowing. This is not to say that urban life is, by itself, intrinsically bad for human health and spirit, but rather the kind of urban life many of us are living. We can change this.

Every child deserves to directly experience the gifts of nature – yet so many, especially those living in dense inner cities, have yet to see the stars, or the sea front… Or breathe the air when there is so much greenery around us… In England, we used to sing about our ‘green and pleasant land’ after all.

Will we be the last generation to remember a time when it was considered normal and expected for children to enjoy the real beauty of nature and outdoors?

As well as loving the film and the underlying philosophy of Avatar, I hope that many others will use it as a stumulus to enjoy the outdoors a great deal more.