Tangle

Black and white image of woods.

At the image sizes I use on this site, this picture appears almost abstract. There’s a Pollock-like alloverness to it. The eye keeps traveling the surface. There’s a super-abundance of detail.

Yet, despite the frenzy of twig and leaf and bark, to stand here in the woods is to be at rest.

The business of everyday life — dodging traffic, making decisions and judgment calls, interacting with strangers — is depleting, and what man-made environments take away from us, nature gives back. There’s something mystical and, you might say, unscientific about this claim, but its heart actually rests in what psychologists call attention restoration theory, or ART. According to ART, urban environments are draining because they force us to direct our attention to specific tasks (e.g., avoiding the onslaught of traffic) and grab our attention dynamically, compelling us to “look here!” before telling us to instead “look over there!” These demands are draining — and they’re also absent in natural environments. Forests, streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans demand very little from us, though they’re still engaging, ever changing, and attention-grabbing. The difference between natural and urban landscapes is how they command our attention. While man-made landscapes bombard us with stimulation, their natural counterparts give us the chance to think as much or as little as we’d like, and the opportunity to replenish exhausted mental resources.
How Nature Resets Our Minds and Bodies


A Year Ago: Trumpets Shall Sound

I thought I’d get you all ready for an Easter parade by laying a suitably pastel palette on you…
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