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There are so many things about being horizontal that are worthy of praise. Look at what great things can happen in the supine position: Sex. Sleep. Meditation. And inspiration, something I came to understand from a novelist friend. While writing a complex trilogy, she would lie down whenever the direction wasn’t clear. In that position, images would come to her and the plot development would reveal itself.

So I tried that in the painting studio. Instead of arduously trying to paint through the inevitable blockages, I started experimenting with stepping away and just lying down for 10 minutes. Stopping the motion of habitual rhythms—of quieting my hands, arms and body for a brief period—had a palate-cleansing effect. I have been using this technique for years now.

The horizontal has usefulness in other domains as well. I have found a lot of marital mileage by discussing difficult topics with my partner when we are in bed rather than upright. I used to think it was the sheer power of our physical touching that kept discomforting content from creating a rift. I’m sure that’s part of it, but a new study reported in New Scientist suggests that being horizontal has its own meliorative influence. A new study found that emotional reactions to provocation vary depending on whether a subject is lying down or sitting up. This has led researchers to question the impact of horizontality on a number of medical procedures like MRIs. But the bottom line of the study is simple: Insults are better taken lying down.

Which makes me think of a great t-shirt slogan I saw while enjoying Shakespeare on the Common last night:


This t-shirt is purchasable from xkcd.