I’ve been thinking about thinking lately. Mostly, that we don’t cultivate the time to do it anymore.
I used to think while I stood in line at the post office. Now I scroll through my newsfeed. Or, I would think on the treadmill; yesterday, I plugged in my ear buds to listen to a podcast. While those activities might inform me or teach me something new, they don’t give me the empty space that I need to think.
W. Gary Smith is an artist and landscape architect who creates gardens in a non-traditional way. His designs challenge people to interact with plants and architectural elements in a manner that allows surprise and discovery—which many times unfold in an unplanned way.
While Gary was talking about his newest design for the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden on the radio, interviewer Mike Collins quizzed him about a photograph he had used in his book. In it, a gravel garden had been carefully raked into a series of spiral grooves. On the particular day of the photograph, the wind had picked up thousands of cherry blossoms that found their way into the deep ruts of the design—an unexpected surprise that created an unanticipated beauty.
The grooves in that garden are like the open space we cultivate in our minds—the deep ruts that might feel like boredom or low points in our day. Or tendency is to run from them, to filter them out with noise or information. But if those grooves aren’t there, we lose the opportunity for the unplanned beauty of our own creative minds.
Today is World Thinking Day. Use it to cultivate some space for the cherry blossoms to land.
[photo courtesy of W. Gary Smith]