Blue Marvel Relaxation

The hospital rooms where I stayed for several weeks in May and June, had TVs, of course, mounted on the walls with remotes operated from the beds. (Cleverly, the speakers were in the remotes themselves, and the volume didn’t go up very high, so that spillover noise into hallways or to other rooms was avoided.) The TVs had a limited roster of cable channels, including the networks and channels offering sports, old movies, cooking shows, and so on.

Then there was a channel called “Relaxation.” It showed nature videos, each 15 minutes or so, with no narration or music, just ambient sounds. There were intro and closing titles explaining the locations. These were, in fact, quite relaxing to watch, and over the course of a couple weeks, until I tired of them, I saw a selection of some dozen or 20 videos over and over. There were the sea lions on a California beach; the Florida wetland pond laden with manatees; Macchu Picchu; several sunrises in Costa Rica, Yosemite, Alaska; views of waterfall cascades in Iceland (which inspired one of my delusional dreams, more on those later); and even one of a boat ride through the Venice canals, at dawn.

It turns out most, perhaps all, of these are produced by an outfit called Blue Marvel, but they are specifically designed for licensing to hospitals. Its website has just one sample to view for free, but all the others, some 200, can be rented or purchased. They’re not on YouTube.

My impression from these videos was this: most of the time nature is static, and pretty dull. OK, tranquil. Where you see animals or sea life, they’re just doing their own thing. (What do sea lions do all day? Lie around on the beach, or go swimming.) There is plenty of “nature red in tooth and claw” to be seen elsewhere, e.g. Nova episodes and David Attenborough documentaries, but not here.

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