Monday, March 15, 2010

Gathering your thoughts

Language patterns can wake us up to the way we really think. For instance, have you ever said you're "gathering your thoughts?" When I thought about why I haven't posted for two weeks, the answer was not just that I have been very busy. It was also that I am in a period where I am 'gathering my thoughts' for a burst of productivity scheduled to begin in May.

Let's think about it for a moment. What does it mean to gather? The dictionary in my Mac says "it means to bring together and take in from scattered places or sources." That's very precise in one sense. I've been reading and experiencing and observing in different places and all of that information will be integrated in my thinking.

But.

That's a process for gathering what I will think - not for gathering what I have already thought at least once. How can my thoughts need gathering? They're already all stored in the same brain.

We all know the sense that our brains are small, dense places (yes, I meant dense). That makes a kind of logical sense since it more or less describes a physical reality. What is curious is that we also share a sense that our brains are huge, rambling structures where lots of stuff accumulates in dusty corners and unused hallways. We share the ability to get lost in our thoughts, to wander through those hallways in search of something we sometimes find (and sometimes don't), and even to gather pieces we have left in different places.

I am gathering my thoughts. It might take awhile, because I'm not sure precisely which thoughts I am gathering. It's like I'm out picking wildflowers. I know where they are likely to grow, but not exactly what I will find in bloom.

That's only a problem if I have to decide what I will gather before I find it. If I can stay open to opportunity, I'll probably find some rare flowers and some combinations I wouldn't have planned that work beautifully.

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