Blogs by Hilary Hopkins


Your Eyes and Your Head

March 17, 2015 / Your Eyes and Your Head

So—I just returned from a glorious and gorgeous week’s cruise in the Caribbean.  Everywhere you look, from the ship or the shore (on these cruises) is that fantastical and improbable turquoise water.  (Don’t the cruise lines put dye in there every morning??)


Anyhow, I got thinking about something I have wondered about before, in other places: What effect does seeing a certain kind of landscape all your life have on your brain?  I am just sure that there is an effect.  I mean, supposing every day for a lifetime your eyes traveled constantly to a distant and uninterrupted horizon, as for instance in parts of Africa or Mongolia?  Or that in your entire life your eyes never got farther than the tall buildings in your city?  



Or that you saw mostly white, or green, or brown, in your landscape?  Or blue?  In cities we see multiple colors and forms constantly, and our brains have to process all that willy-nilly.  When I go to Cape Cod to our cottage one of the best things about it is that there are really only three colors: blue, green, and brown.  This simplicity of variety is very soothing. 


Once years ago when I was a teacher of ten-year-olds I used to do a kind of experiment with them.  Each kid would take a small piece of paper and a pencil and when I gave the signal would have I think it was 15 seconds to sketch our classroom.  Then we would all line up at the window (second floor), and using another piece of paper take 15 seconds to sketch what was seen outdoors.  Then we would all get in a circle and first hold up our indoor drawings and look around at everybody else’s, and then our outdoor ones.  The results were always striking: indoors = straight lines and sharp angles; outdoors = meandering lines and curves.   We would discuss why that might be.



If you live in some places it’s all straight lines, and in others, the curves of nature.


Don’t you imagine that those things make a difference in your brain? 


I myself crave the curvy blue, green, brown of nature!   One of the greatest gifts of travel is the seeing of other landscapes.  Keeps my brain supple—I hope.

Your Eyes and Your Head


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