Curating The Week: Swimming, Walking, And Limited Options

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An essay about swimming.

“Cognitive scientists have shown that water sounds—the rhythmic hum of the ocean, the rush of a waterfall—are calming to the human brain. We experience a drop in heart rate and blood pressure and an increase in alpha-wave activity—those brain wavelengths associated with relaxation and boosted serotonin—as well as creative thinking.”

An essay about walking and writing.

“Writing and walking are extremely similar feats, equal parts physical and mental. When we choose a path through a city or forest, our brain must survey the surrounding environment, construct a mental map of the world, settle on a way forward, and translate that plan into a series of footsteps. Likewise, writing forces the brain to review its own landscape, plot a course through that mental terrain, and transcribe the resulting trail of thoughts by guiding the hands. Walking organizes the world around us; writing organizes our thoughts.” 

An essay on the advantages of limited options for creative work.  

“Intuitive actions confine the detail work to a dedicated part of the brain, leaving the rest of one’s mind free to respond with attention and sensitivity to the changing texture of the moment. With tools, we crave intimacy. This appetite for emotional resonance explains why users—when given a choice—prefer deep rapport over endless options. You can’t have a relationship with a device whose limits are unknown to you, because without limits it keeps becoming something else.”

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