Studies show...

Chances are you’ve read an article. An article about a study. An article about a study that found that either red wine is good for you or it gives you cancer but you can’t remember which. Either pears bring down your blood pressure or chess players are more likely to get liver disease. Air is great but sometimes it’s deadly. Exercise is fabulous except when it kills you. 

We’ve all read the articles. We all know we’re doing it wrong. If only we got up earlier, had colder showers, lived in the bush/near the sea/up a mountain/with pets or old people or indoor plants, avoided gluten, drank filtered water, played instruments etc… then life would be a breeze. Then, we’d be coasting. 

Truth is though, studies don’t show everything. Here are some things that studies don’t show. This is a Public Service Announcement. Your life is not a science experiment.

Studies don’t show how amazing it is when four butterflies hang out together. Have you witnessed that lately? It’s really quite ridiculous. The way their wings move, the way they dip and rise through the air, it’s the quietest thing in the world but it looks noisy. It looks like laughter and conversation and a game of chasey and music come alive on a page.

Some trees have branches you could easily sleep in. And levels. Some trees have levels, like storeys in a building, hidden under the canopy of the leaves. Like a secret nature house.

Sometimes after a warm day, the temperature drops to just the right temperature and it’s slightly cool on your skin and your body lets you sleep a deep and thorough slumber that refreshes your whole face.

People watching other people sideways with interest or affection is an underrated element of the human condition and in my view there is not enough research work done in this area. 

So cute how humans leave their shoes neatly together in pairs. This seems to be important to us in some way and it’s something that happens across cultures. I have not looked into this but I would be surprised if this has been studied or mentioned in the news nearly as often as it could be.

Paperbark is lovely. Drawing on paperbark with biro has got to be one of the more lovely writing experiences. To my knowledge, nobody has figured out a way of turning this into a capitalist enterprise. This is an excellent result so perhaps it is best there are no studies launched in this area. 

Nobody studies the way water dripping in one context can make a person feel homicidal and water dripping in another context can be the most relaxing sound in the world. One of the great mysteries of the world: unsolved by science.

What are babies thinking? This one will have been studied but nobody actually has any real answer. Look at the little blighters though. Don’t tell me they’re not thinking. Rubbish.

Ever been a pine forest? That smell cannot be replicated and I don’t care how hard people try. The gulf between the smell that enters your soul when you stand deep and cool in a dark, quiet pine forest and the little “pine” smelling tree thing people hang from their rear vision mirror in the car is enormous and eternal.

The feeling of having just been for a swim - even if you didn’t do much, just went from warm to cold and cold to warm again - is a special kind of tired. Why isn’t this type of tired being researched? We should cultivate it. It’s lovely.

Porridge. Entirely excellent. Almost never mentioned in studies.

The patterns made by the tide in the sand. Can’t think of a single article about them.

The surge of goodwill that happens between drivers who give the wave or let each other in or help each other out in traffic: nothing. A lot of studies into road rage but not much work goes into really exploring the mutual affection of the country-road-hello.

Studies don’t tend to show that while life is short it is often lovely. We have to figure that last bit out for ourselves. So go and fondle some paperbark. Stare at a baby. Look at somebody sideways. The world is bursting with small miraculous mysteries nobody will ever solve. Enjoy them. This has been a Public Service Announcement.

This article appeared at some point in living memory in The Big Issue. They are excellent and you should buy the magazine from vendors on the street whenever possible the end.