AND How Many Make a Crowd

October 4th, 2015

While outside, I have met many passersby on the beach, enjoying the now-spacious and relatively open expanse of sand and surf. Summer crowds have finally left and the natural beauty of the beach and sounds of the surf provide their magic for all who choose to enjoy the cooler temperatures and quiet of the setting. Thankfully, a small number of true aficionados do. Certainly not a crowd.

One couple talked about a home they have in Florida and their disappointment at the prospect of crowds who would be flocking to their paradise soon, as the cold weather up north propels them south. Another person talked of finding property far away from other people, hidden in nature’s beauty, as important for feeling at peace.

I am fascinated by the impact of density, whether visual, auditory, or other-sensory, on stress levels. Some people feel lonely in crowds. Others feel included. Some get to hide in crowds. Others feel unseen, invisible. Whatever your perception, some number of people in a particular space can feel like a crowd, and either be a source of calm or stress.

Some people flock to wherever others are gathered. Urban environments provide that sense of density through numbers and closeness of buildings, people, noises, and other-sensory input. More rural environments offer the opposite for those seeking more solitude and connection with nature.

The perception of crowds and crowding varies by individual and culture. Maybe it’s the visual appearance of people in your space. Maybe it is the noise level. It could also be the ability to navigate without bumping into others.

What I know is this: for me there is a tremendous joy that comes in watching a sunrise or sunset uninterrupted by noise or movement beyond that provided by nature. An open expanse of beach fills me to the brim. What fills you up? And at what point is your joy threatened by a crowd?

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