Sunday, March 11, 2007

The delight in finding what you've stopped looking for

It wasn't the first time this type of irony had been encountered. But experiencing it again gave cause to reflect what a valuable lesson it can be.

Setting out in the early hours of Sunday, with the aim of becoming better acquainted with the surrounding neighborhood, the additional intent was to come away with something unexpected, an unsual observation from the morning stroll.

While an hour passed pleasantly exploring the tree lined streets whose shops had not started stirring to life, nothing stood out that met the brief. As the time wound down it seemed inevitable that no such observation would be forthcoming. Resigned to return empty-handed it was in making the last stretch of the way home that, forced to wait before crossing the road by a passing car, I noticed my shadow stretched in the road ahead of me, created by an rising sun hanging low in the sky.

Often, it's when the mind is relaxed rather than actively engaged in thought or perception that an idea or observation emerges. And it's not surprising really: focusing the mind intensely can make its perceptual scope limited and rigid instead of allowing the subconscious room to engage in its more open fluid way. It why people often record that a break-through in thinking comes at seemingly the oddest times: in the shower, or in the middle of the night. "I'll sleep on it" is a good thought to have before retiring to bed, priming the sub-conscious to play with the problem while you slumber. Try it next time you have a tough one to crack.

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