Chaos and frenzy …. so many here at the same time, crammed into this tight space. Moving criss-cross, fast, very fast, as if getting somewhere but not sure where; bumping into each other and most times moving on without even looking up to see who they bumped into; sometimes a rare nod of recognition deceives one to expect a conversation but there is no time or space, so they just move on, making a note to reconnect another time. Some of them are in a group, trying to move together, talking to each other and trying to organize themselves, but they can’t – keeping together is a task in this crowd. And there are yet others trying to enter this madness but are being rejected at the fringes. It’s so packed and congested – facade of a heaving hive, but really nothing more than a swarming swamp.
This was the state of my mind as I was on my way to the destination of my short 3-day break. That congested space was my mind and the movement within was of my thoughts – so many, some random, some inter-linked, moving about, sometimes making a connection but not long enough to make meaning. Thoughts about things left unfinished at work and home, fledgling ideas not formed enough, irrelevant things like an aircon-servicing appointment and less irrelevant ones like finishing touches to a business recommendation… an endless stream of thoughts making it impossible to think! Adding to this noise inside was the noise around – a delayed flight, a crowded airport, arrival at our destination, hectic activity in the lobby – kids playing, luggage going in and out, someone checking us in, “Your welcome drink, madam…” …..
And suddenly, it all seemed to recede into the background… a hush…….
What just happened, I wondered, is it this welcome drink? I looked up from my untouched drink to notice what my eyes had already been taking in – a sea of green-blue stared back as I stared into the natural landscaping of the resort we were checking into. Something here had flipped a switch in my head, causing this effect – what exactly is it? I was very tempted to follow that thought, but in spite of myself, I could not. My mind, exhausted from its frenzy of activity, had found a shaded spot to rest that it was unwilling to give up. I felt a sense of calm that was so soothing, that I dared not stir it even to understand it; a sense of tranquil peace ran through me, silencing the mayhem of teeming thoughts inside. It was as if my whole being had heaved a sigh of much-needed relief and flopped on to the retreat it had stumbled upon. All my life’s to-do lists with their ticks and crosses, had been relegated to a corner of my mind from whence they would be later retrieved; but right now, the larger mindspace had gotten cleared to allow itself to soak into this newfound nirvana.
As I enjoyed this quiet for the next few days, my mind cleared itself of its earlier muddle, and ironically, from there sprang the clarity of what had happened – the landscape of the resort I was seeing was nothing extraordinary – I have seen far more beautiful scenes before. The trick lay in the colour palette; it almost exclusively comprised natural blues and greens with browns and some purples – water, greenery, a play of light and shade with large, green trees alternatingly hiding and showing a clear blue sky in the background. The blue of the sky and the green of the trees multiplied themselves by reflecting in the water – creating more green and blue, leading into the magical calming effect. Colour theory calls these “cool colours”, which are definitely associated with emotions of peace and calm.
But then why does this not happen to me when I see the same colours in paintings, in interiors or on screensavers? – that was my brain not willing to give up. And then it answered its own question – the other part of the magic was in the full frame of my real (versus digital) vision and of being a part of that picture. I was there, seeing, living, breathing the colours, and listening to their live audio track – the distant sound of waves fizzling out as they surrendered to the beach, of leaves rustling just a bit to the slow cool breeze, of birds chirping in refrain. Voila – it created a spell that felt like bliss – like rain on arid land, like cool breeze on a hot, humid day, like the freshness of mist after a dusty trail.
And this is no isolated experience for me – on numerous occasions have I walked out of my hectic everyday life into the lap of nature and into my favourite blue-green palette – a walk in the woods, a stroll on a quiet beach, a well landscaped park, a mountain trail, hills and valleys, the sight of flowers growing wild…. And every single time, unfailingly, it has calmed me down, helped me to switch off almost instantaneously, relax and refresh. Importantly, it has always inspired clarity of thought. These recesses with nature have always enabled me to rearrange a seemingly disconnected bunch of thoughts to make meaning out of clutter, come closer to myself, see a way forward and restore the healthy productivity of my mindspace.
I am now addicted to this experience – I need a swig of this freshness every now and again. I have withdrawal symptoms if I don’t get it. So much, so that I plan for these frequent breaks that take me into some place with natural surroundings. And then I look forward to not just the peace they promise, but the clarity and new direction of thought that they invariably always bring along in their wake.
An addiction to coolness – how cool is that?