Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Long View

Last nght I came home from a typical day of working on the thrice-bedamned Windows PC at the office to a book Chris picked up for me at his work: Terry Pratchett's "Only You Can Save Mankind." It's pretty much a kid's book, but here's the thing about Pratchett. If you pick up a TP book, Discworld or not, and dare to read... say... the first sentence, well, it's all over from there. You will be finishing it that night. Terry's nice enough to write short ones that we can do that with. Heck, even back when I was barely reading anything at all, I couldn't put down a TP book.

So anyway I finished it, it was funny and sweet and made me smile, but... Well, by the end of it I gotta' say my eyes were totally fecked. And I got to thinking, because my vision was going and I had a nasty headache, about how Anne at work was telling me one day that you're supposed to look off into the distance like 5-10 minutes out of every hour you spend at the 'puter. This is why offices with windows are so important. And I try to do it, but y'know...

It's winter. Here in Oregon, that means it is pitch dark at 5pm. And the sloppy weather keeps you inside. We got the seasonal affective thing going big time, of course. I got a grow light next to my bed just so's I can regain consciousness in the so-called morning. Anyway, here's the thing that occurred to me:

We humans evolved on the African plains, yes? So the wide open spaces and grand vistas, they are our natural environment. We especially like to climb up high and look around. That's why all the most expensive houses in your town are up on the hills. It's why we have those pullouts along the highway that say "Scenic Overlook, 1/4 mile." It's why you get that charge from standing up on the edge of Crater Lake and looking around, and it's one of the reasons (I contend) that we so love to stand around on the beach and just stare at the ocean. The long view, man, we're hardwired for it.

But our city life, and in particular our modern city life of the 21st century, is all about things that are up close and personal. The 'puter, the TV, the nearest cars in traffic... Heck, probably the farthest away we have to focus our eyes is maybe 30 feet or so. Privacy fencing in the backyard means even when we go outside we're agoraphobic about it. Winter just exacerbatees the problem, keeping us from getting out into the world unless we're crazy enough to enjoy strapping our feet to sticks rubbed slick and jumping down an ice-covered hill or something.

Well, I got this theory that it's not just bad for the eyes, all this concentration and straining to focus on stuff that's really close up to us. It's also bad for our psyches. Makes us all close-in and self-absorbed, like the whole Universe revolves around us alone... with no idea of the big picture y'know? So we can't think, pardon my descent into biz jargon here, out of the box. Can't see the big picture, how can we keep it in mind? Wish I could do a study, compare the incidence of big-picture thinking with how often people go to the beach or up in the mountains, out to the desert etc.

Anyway, it's got me convinced that I need to do just that. I know how much better it always makes me feel, and I got the New Year Blues setting in right about now. Even if it means going out in the freakin' rain this weekend, looks like I just gotta' do it. I bet it even correlates with the seasonal depression thing -- yes, I know that's mainly due to a lack of light and associated brain chemicals, but gee... Hey, you go outside and look up at the stars, really look at 'em, let your gaze stretch out (maybe go somewhere up high if you have to), and tell me how it makes you feel.

Works for me!

1 comment:

Loreen said...

way cool pic.