Space, Movement, Learning

You’ve been told to stay put. You’ve been told you should not go out, and it’s aggressive. The CDC came back and shrunk the number to gatherings of no more than ten people.

The war is here, and for introverted people such as myself, the underlying gut reaction at first was: this will be easy.

That is the prevailing assumption on comments for YouTube videos of the coronavirus, from what I can tell.

But a secondary problem emerges. For anyone who has seen the same places, who does not move all that often, who becomes lethargic and static, the question now is how this affects learning and behavior.

My wife and I are nagging at each other. We pick at each other as we walk by rooms. And while we are fortunate enough to have more than one room, imagine the studio apartment, imagine the crowded living room with dogs and siblings and fighting for the television.

Thought requires space. As hunters and gatherers for a long time, we have evolved to process new spaces. We relish long fields, dense forests, and rolling hills. Just as much as we desire new information, we also need new closets to put them in, and it is in movement that we come to understand the world.

Barbara Tversky, in her book Mind in Motion lays the claim before us that it is not just language that we interact with, but space may be just as if not more important. Think about the ways I have been describing this topic to you, just now. “Lays the claim before” allows us to spatially see me dropping…something…at your feet. Walking “by” rooms. So many prepositions in our language that tell us where things are. Tversky sees motion as a key determinant in stimulating the young brain.

Which is why exercise is so key at this moment in our life, more so than ever. I am looking forward to reading Kelly McGonigal’s book The Joy of Movement because I hope it will articulate into words the feeling I have always had from exercise. Do it for your body, but at the very least do it for your mind.

If you find yourself trapped because the world wants you to stay home, find a way to move your body.

Put a YouTube yoga video on and sit on the floor.

Go for a walk, which has shown to be just as productive as running (without the joint pain).

Raise the heart rate. Raise yourself out of that despondent and lethargic feeling. I know my wife appreciates it.

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