This is going to seem like a pretty stupid blog post, so I'm going to let you in on a little secret. This is going to be a stupid blog post.
For some reason that escapes me, I got to thinking about why it is us humans enjoy staring at water. I’m not talking about that bottle of Aquafina on your desk, I mean relaxing on the beach enjoying the ocean view or sitting on the end of the pier in the north woods.
This is where I hear you saying, “There’s nothing complicated to it, dumbass. Water views are beautiful and that’s why people pay through the nose to live in beachside high rise condos.”
Fair enough, but let me disagree a little. Yes, large bodies of water can be beautiful. I live on the shores of Lake Michigan and have witnessed many spectacular sunrises glistening over the water. I’ve seen violent waves on windy days that I could watch for hours. But most of the time? Dullsville. Blue water on blue sky and there ain’t much going on. Wow, is that a gull with a candy bar wrapper in its mouth?
But still, I totally agree it feels good to stare out over the lake and I finally figured out why. You know what else feels good? Staring into a large canyon or a big open field from the top of a hill. Sitting on the back deck of a house in the woods is great, but sitting on the back deck of a house overlooking acres of prairie is even better. A view of central park from the third floor is great. Same view from the 30th floor is even greater.
I think our brains are wired to prefer open space views because that’s what our cave people ancestors needed. After all, how can you expect Grogdak and his wife to relax after a hard day of hunting and gathering in the dense jungle when a predator could be just a few feet away and ready to pounce? I’m sure he preferred to rest perched on top of a cliff, so if something sporting saber teeth and a taste for hairy man flesh was coming, he’d see it a mile away. Ever see an old dude sitting in his driveway staring at the road instead of his cramped back yard and neighbor's house? I rest my case.
So anyway, that’s my theory on why we enjoy looking at lakes, oceans, valleys, and canyons. We’re just upgraded cavemen. I told you this blog post would be stupid.
Robert Brumm is the author of seven books and has a taste for hairy man flesh.