A week ago, as the page proofs for this issue started landing on my desk, I found myself staring at the photo that appears on pages 80 and 81. I wasn't mesmerized so much as paralyzed: I was so completely drawn in, it almost seemed like I couldn't move.
And as I sat there staring, I began to wonder what exactly was so absorbing about the photo. It's a simple image of the ocean, equal parts water and ski, stripped of any other elements. Gazing at it placed me on an empty shoreline, and I didn't want to leave. I could actually feel my neck and shoulders relaxing.
I assure you I'm not losing my mind. In fact, the article that accompanies that photo ("Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning") goes a long way toward explaining the physiological reaction I had to that picture. Humans possess an evolutionary craving for nature, not simply because it's beautiful to look at but because it's incredibly therapeutic. Last December, in our cover story about biologist Wallace J. Nichols, we came across some emerging theories that link time in nature to a person's overall well-being. The notion was intriguing, enough to make us want to return to the topic a year later with a second cover story. What if spending time outside was the antidote to the ills of modern life: cancer, obesity, stress, and the constant, stupefying intrusion of technology into every facet of our existence?