I was reflecting on the monthly beewalk that I mentioned in a recent post. It's a transect, which is a scientific methodology for gathering data about the outside world by walking the same route on a regular basis and taking observations. I enjoy the process, as it gives me a structure to observe incremental changes across the seasons.
I then started thinking about whether one could apply this methodology in a more phenomenological way, by undertaking the same activity but making close observations not about the external, but about the internal. How often on this route and in which quadrant do I experience specific emotions, such as amusement, joy, anger, sadness, happiness and boredom? As with the bee data this could then be mapped over time and by habitat telling us how often we feel anger in wheatfields in June, or joy in hedgerowed lanes in October. Over time, and with enough data, this could form the basis of a landscape-based wellbeing intervention.
However, I suspect that Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle would almost certainly apply, with the act of observation changing that which is observed. So maybe we should come up with proxy indicators for common emotions, such as heart-rate, blood pressure and pace of walking, all controlled for other variables. Or maybe we should stick to counting bees and being happy?