Monday, September 20, 2010

Loafing Under Trees

In his novel Middlesex, Jeffry Eugenides' narrator recounts the story of Princess Si Ling-Chi, who discovered the silk worm's thread when she was sitting under a tree and a cocoon fell into her cup of tea and unraveled. He writes, "Great discovery, whether of silk or gravity, are always windfalls. they happen to people loafing under trees."
So I resolve to do more loafing under trees.

Traveling a few weeks ago, I heard on NPR a report about how all our "screens" (smart phones, computers, televisions, ipods, etc.) are distracting us. They keep us from boredom, yes, but they prevent us from rest--the time we need to process and cement into our memory what we've learned. Checking our screens is the worst kind of recipe for addiction-making behavior: intermittent reinforcement. Constant checking prevents us from coming up with new ideas -- it inhibits our creativity -- even though the devices we are checking have the ability to greatly increase our production.
So I resolve to do more loafing under trees.

On the next program, Diane Rheem had on a man whose research showed the connection between our body and mind and how that affects our health. People with chronic pain treated themselves, by employing a relaxing technique and remembering back to a time in their lives when they were without pain to remember themselves back into wellness. He said in times of stress we need to break the cycle of our thought patterns, relax, and think of something else. He cited "believers" -- believers of anything -- being a healthier population than non-believers. The pattern of prayer takes us out of our routine, making us more relaxed, more healthy. One caller shared how in times of daily, routine stress, she stopped and recited poetry...
So I resolve to do more loafing under trees.

Summer is waning and soon the leaves will change... the weather will grow cold..
I believe I have someplace better to be right now.

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