To get lost, on purpose

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Nothing is more abandoned than the desert. Yet, there is nothing more stimulating than letting the imagination fill in the empty space.

The blank page work the same way. We fill it in with fiction and truth, recasting observations and thoughts about our surroundings.

Curiosity is the best book. As more land becomes visible, we realize how much more hides away in the distance. It’s vital to get outside the bubble that is our screen-obsessed culture. We’ve let entertainment replace reading and thinking. We’ve outsourced our memory to social media. Society is becoming plastic.

Jettison the map. It is arbitrary, anyway. As the Polish-American scientist Alfred Korzybski once said, “the map is not the territory.”

We shall explore the world as a desert, as William Atkins writes “a library whose shelves have never been occupied.” The cost of distance is nothing compared to the rich expansion of the mind’s eye.

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Birds that make beats

The European Starlings Dennis & Ernie sing in what sounds like some beatboxing collaboration infusing drum n bass, Aphex Twin, and some Miles Davis at the 00:34 mark.

Says one of the owners, Rose Buck:

Over the years they have built up their own personal collection of sounds, words and bird calls, they all have their own preferences and repertoire, it can be anything from ringtones, to all our other birds, our creaky lounge door, lots of things that Rose says to them, laughing, coughing, electronic noises they hear of things working etc, anything basically that takes their fancy, I would guess that each one has a personal repertoire of around 30 to 50 sounds.

Check out the Lloyd & Rose Buck website for more.

How taking an afternoon ‘nappuccino’ increases productivity ☕💤

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Like most people, my brain starts to fizzle out between 2 and 3pm. According to science, this isn’t due to a lunch hangover but rather a part of our circadian rhythm.

To preempt the inevitable afternoon slothfulness, author Dan Pink proposes to take a nappuccino. He recommends that before you take your 20-minute nap (science shows that more than 20 minutes can make you feel drowsier), you should drink a cup of coffee.

Writes Pink in his new book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing:

The caffeine won’t fully engage in your bloodstream for about 25 minutes, so drink up right before you lie down.

The pre-nap caffeination will give you an extra boost when you wake up. Your brain will be sharper and more focused. You’ll also receive all the benefits of a nap: lower blood pressure and a stronger heart.

You can read more about the nappuccino productivity hack here.

Human brains are hardwired for rural landscapes

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According to a study done by psychologists at Exeter University, humans are hardwired for rural environments.

An MRI scanner revealed that human brains grow confused at the image of cities. Meanwhile, reviewing photos of the countryside calmed down the mind to a meditative state.

Reports researcher Dr. Ian Frampton:

“When looking at urban environments the brain is doing a lot of processing because it doesn’t know what this environment is. The brain doesn’t have an immediate natural response to it, so it has to get busy. Part of the brain that deals with visual complexity lights up: ‘What is this that I’m looking at?’ Even if you have lived in a city all your life, it seems your brain doesn’t quite know what to do with this information and has to do visual processing.”

Take a walk in the park

We all know the city can make us feel like another rat in a cage. The zoo metaphor isn’t off. Said one Exeter professor: “If you don’t get the conditions right in zoos, the animals start behaving in a wacky way.” To quote novelist John Berger, “the zoo is the epitaph to a relationship.”

Urbanization is not natural, so the brain does its best to adapt to infrastructure and chaos. Catalan artist Arnau Alemany depicts the relationship between the metropolis and the fields. City parks provide an important outlet to human nature.

Despite the chaos, cities work. Like our crazy neurons, there seems to some order in the disorder. The brain is plastic, after all.

Lisa Ericson’s supernatural beings

Bursting onto the art scene for her surreal piece on “mouserflies,” painter Lisa Ericson returns to Portland’s Antler Gallery for the fourth time.

Writes the Gallery on her imaginative take on species as “mobile habitats”:

“Her technical skill is beyond compare. The depth of her feeling really shines through in these gorgeous depictions of supernatural beings which look as though they could be photographs taken on a night safari or deep-dive.”

"Uneasy Truce" by Lisa Ericson

See more of Lisa Ericson’s portfolio on her website.

Punk rock turtle who can breathe for 72 hours underwater

Mary River Turtle the punk rock turtle
Photo by Chris Van Wyk

The Mary River Turtle not only has specialized glands that allow it to breathe underwater for 72 hours, it also sports a punk rock algae-infused mohawk.

Named one of the world’s most vulnerable reptiles, the turtle lives in Mary River streams in southeastern Queensland, Australia.

“We need to be a little bit more tortoise-y and a little less hare-ish,” Malcolm Gladwell once said. While his message encourages people to slow down in this hyperspeed era, perhaps we need a little more punk in our lives too.

Rock on!

(h/t Mashable)

‘I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing’ 👁🌲

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“Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.”

Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson

As seen in The benefits of walking in nature

The benefits of walking in nature

The benefits of walking in nature

One of the main benefits of walking in nature is that trees inspire feelings of awe. According to research done by psychology professor Dacher Keltner at UC Berkeley, awe benefits not only the mind and body but also improves our social connections and makes us kinder.

Spending time outside is also vital as a destressor. One study found that camping gets the stress hormone cortisol back under control. Even sitting near trees at the office help calm us down with “softly fascinating stimulation.”

Spending time outside has many benefits including improving short-term memory, sparking creativity, lowering blood pressure, reducing fatigue, strengthening focus and more.

The benefits of walking in nature
The Hyperion: The world’s largest tree located in Northern California (Photograph by Michael Nichols, National Geographic)

Nature is a higher power

Knowing how little we stand in a swathe of gigantic trees also puts life in perspective. Wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay Nature:

“Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.”

Nature soothes the sense of self. It reminds us that we are less significant we are, and that fact may make us happier we’re here.


The Broccoli Tree 🥦🌳

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“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” said Andy Warhol. That was certainly true for a broccoli tree in Sweden, whose anonymity disappeared due to its popular Instagram account with 30,000 fans.

In a world of surfeit images, people actually spent the time to look at this broccoli tree. It became a tourist attraction, even hosting its own photography exhibition. But according to a heartless individual, it may have overstayed its welcome. Someone suddenly sawed off one of its limbs.

“You can’t unsaw a tree, but you can’t unsee one either.”

The broccoli tree went desist, but its fame lives on through calendars, prints, and its Instagram feed.  “To share something is to risk losing it,” especially in the era of social media.

It’s a harsh world for something that seemed already untouchable.

‘Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it’

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If you are thinking in absolutes, the fickle world will shake you.

Uncertainty is what keeps you on our toes, never in a standstill.

Predictable patterns try to lull you to sleep.

You compel yourself to ride with the pendulum.

Comfort meets chaos with patience and confidence.

If you need reassurance, read Rudyard Kipling’s 1895 poem, “If”:

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting…

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim…

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.

We shape Earth. It shapes us.

26167560_942735665901482_315657857674587099_nWe shape the Earth, and it shapes us.

For all the pieces interact, transforming into a cohesive thought.

The trees grow in cities, the oceans meet at the cape.

All the pieces interact, enveloped by the space inside.

The weather is fickle, cyclical, everything too much for a remix, itching for evolution.

To get closer to the texture of stimuli, gentle in our convictions, cushioned from other things.

In nature’s ludicrous rhythm, we trust.