I swear I heard an NPR story on the radio a few months ago about a study that proved that people who spend time on or near water for a minimum of 15 minutes a day showed improved brain health. In fact I believe the scientist or whomever was interviewed said that even though his study only focused on large bodies of water, like the ocean, he strongly believed that any water outdoors would severely improve creativity in the human mind. So what? I wanted to find the article and really read it because I think he’s onto something. (If you can find me the story or study, please share it with me. Much appreciation in advance).
The rest of this article I plan to pretend I have read the article, poured over the study, and cross-referenced this data with other scientific findings. This means something to me because I grew up on a peninsula, and to this day I feel like a lost itchy-skinned frog if I get too land-locked for an extended period of time. Symptoms of extended-land-lock-exposure include the following: short mild panic attacks, quickened breath, itchy skin, itchy heart, and the extreme desire to study a road atlas and seek water as soon as humanly possible.
Water pacifies me and inspires me all at once, and I refuse to live anywhere where I can’t accidentally stumble into water or smell it in the air. I also believe that water attracts incredibly talented creative people as well, so I am certain data of some kind will prove that the most interesting people live near water (forget the uninteresting, uncreative folks who just happen to live everywhere). So what does Ecology teach us?
Let’s look at what Darwin observed, that basically extreme environments encourage extreme flora and fauna species. Of these extreme environments, islands take the cake (refer to the Galapagos Island or New Zealand for examples). Now consider this, humans are fauna too, in my book. So people living in extreme environments, like islands, peninsulas or isthmus‘, tend to be extreme people. Live on an island or little peninsula for one calendar year and dare to prove me wrong.
It takes a certain metal to live in a blip of land surrounded in water, and this metal is high in creativity. Take my homeland of Door County, (yes the whole county is counted as home because it’s so small and everybody knows everybody). This skinny finger of land between Green Bay and Lake Michigan freezes over in the winter, slowing down to a practically closed-for-business ghost village, and then ripens to a full blown tourist haven in summer.
The year ’round inhabitants of this island take the winter to carve unique wood furniture, throw pottery, write music, mold metal jewelry, weave masterful tapestries, and paint shivering nudes in preparation for grueling shop hours July 4th through Labor Day. Some say Memorial Day through Labor Day is the tourist season, but anybody relying on those tourist dollars knows the cash tsunami hits in a much shorter time span.
Some talented intelligent souls supplement their peninsula life with second, third, and fourth jobs in the service industry. Why? Just so they can live surrounded in gorgeous healing pacific waters and live in community rich in creative talent. The day ends and begins with colors never properly replicated in oils or pastels (of course acrylics can’t come anywhere close). The sun rises and sets along cool shorelines, and its water that carries these warm kisses of solar love to the blue toes of our crazy Door County natives.
Water caresses the primal desires to survive in as beautiful of a life as possible, and so these natives create, and create, and create, stretching the lines over which to cross. For the tourists, water melts way the stress of big box shopping line rage and traffic jams and office cubicle hell accentuated by buzzing fluorescent lighting and stiff, stale ceiling tiles. Water soothes the wrinkles of urban stress right out of your day.
And landlubbers can barely understand what peace, art, and love feels like…until they get themselves quiet and humble at the shores of oceans, seas, lakes, heck, even at the banks of rivers, on a very regular basis.
And to answer your question, No. Water fountains do not count.
So help make your life a healthy creative realm for yourself and everyone dealing with you; get yourself some water retreats on a very regular basis. Respect the water. The human brain could be saved.