Friday, January 3, 2014
that this is my hundredth blog post
This turns out to be my hundredth post on this blog, which neatly coincides with the first post for 2014. I've enjoyed writing this blog immensely for the past few years, and I'm looking forward to keeping it going. As I've shut down my website for financial reasons, this is now the contact site I give to anyone who wants to connect. I've enjoyed the "Just Occurred to Me" theme of mini-epiphanies. I've found that while I keep up this blog, they keep occurring, but dry up when I don't. That's a good enough reason to keep going.
One of the best things this blog has shown me is that epiphanies or serendipitous thoughts don't have to be huge to be significant. I used to make the mistake of thinking they ought to be. But so many of them are not Burning Bush or Damascus Road experiences. I'm happy enough to leave that sort for great, charismatic leaders such as Moses or Paul, because there are plenty of epiphanies for the rest of us, if only we recognise them.
Perhaps the way to attract them may simply be giving ourselves enough time to reflect and ponder. Over the years, I've read stories and memoirs by people who have gone to live in developing nations for a time. It's fascinating that many of them have reported surprise at the rush of creativity such opportunities stir up inside of them. They believed they didn't have much imagination or many fresh ideas because they were born that way, when it turns out simply living in the western world sucked a lot of it out of them. They didn't realise this until changing their location in the world.
Just waking up, turning on our computers and heading out to the shops or to work is enough to bombard our senses with all sorts of sensory stimulation from advertising to radio noise. This sort of background sense pollution is so normal to the average Joe or Jane in the twenty-first century that we're unconscious of a great deal of it. Yet it's still taking space away from the 'a-ha' moments which might flow easier if we'd let our minds and senses be a little emptier.
As well as developing nations, it was similar in the olden days. Some of our senior citizens can remember simpler, slower times. A few years ago, we visited a quiet little ghost town at the foot of South Australia's Yorke Peninsula, where there had been no doctors and the post only used to come every couple of months. That was an eye-opener for me. What a lot of room to reflect, spend time pondering great works of literature instead of speed reading (if you were lucky enough to get hold of any good books), and letting sudden ideas play out in your mind instead of smothering them when you have to rush on to the next thing.
When I think about it, some great epiphanies did result from such slow, unhurried, pondering moments. Sir Isaac Newton was just taking a rest beneath an apple tree when one of the fruits fell on his head (so the story goes) and suddenly he had an epiphany about the Universal Law of Gravitation. What a momentous 'just occurred to me' moment for a fellow who was just enjoying a lazy summer day.
And Archimedes was having a soak in a warm, relaxing bath when the theory about water displacement suddenly filled his mind. If the legend we're told is completely true, I wonder if any onlookers had epiphanies of their own as he jumped out of the bath in his excitement, and went racing down the street stark naked, yelling, "Eureka!"
For 2014, I think it's a good idea to make sure to keep an environment of space and time around us to allow the rise of unexpected ideas. We don't need to move to a third world country and we certainly can't go back in time, but it's still possible to give ourselves ideal conditions sometimes. I wish you all a happy and productive 2014 and now that I've reached 100 reflections, I'm looking forward to sharing more of them on this blog.