I’m reasonably certain I’ve been distracting myself from the assigned work at hand. Facebook is a known and appropriate culprit for this.
At the same time, much of what I do on Facebook is read articles that I wouldn’t spend time tracking down on the wider interwebs. When I browse tangible libraries, I don’t start at one end of the book-holding space and wander systematically. I start in a spot I’m interested in and move in widening circles. No doubt there are other digital places I can begin in, but “stuff my friends like” is a pretty good seed for pearls, and has the benefit of knocking me out of my deep grooves. Often into my shallower ones, but a body’s gotta start somewhere.
Today a 2016 Scientific American article offered a reading-seed. “Lessons from a 45-Year Study of Supersmart Children”? Oh, yeah: what did they do with my data from Back in the Day? I was one of those 7th-graders asked to take the SAT as part of the SMPY (Johns Hopkins) or TIP (Duke) research. (I forget what Stanford called/s their program.)
There are nifty graphs and executive summaries — SciAm is great for deep writing for non-experts, 13/10 would recommend for hungry brains. And still the part I am drawn to is the part exploring:
[R]esults contradict long-established ideas suggesting that expert performance is built mainly through practice—that anyone can get to the top with enough focused effort of the right kind. SMPY, by contrast, suggests that early cognitive ability has more effect on achievement than either deliberate practice or environmental factors such as socio-economic status.
Though anecdote != data, I could’ve told you that. As the article discusses elsewhere, when a brain is wired differently than others’, there are other differences in outwardly visible elements (some otherwise called “achievements”).
Which brings me to the other FB-spawned reading web. The blog Your Rainforest Mind, recommended to me via the artificial intelligence/algorithm, uses a metaphor of riotous lushness to try to evoke that alternate wiring. Which sometimes ends up looking like achievements, but often doesn’t. Probst points toward their/our interesting questions (“how do octopi express consciousness?”) and uninteresting ones (“what do you want to be when you grow up?”) as another way to observe this unlike-ness.
[I want to say she has an article that talks about classic meditation’s ’empty’ mind and how the rainforest really (really) isn’t wired for that, with its three thoughts springing out of every single one. I’ve now read/re-read her website for an hour and not bumped into it, so I’m trying to let it go even though it lent me a triumphant SEE! that I wanted to show off. Oh well.]
Why am I twitching the curtain away from my rainforest?
To remind myself that, in some ways, this ‘procrastination’ is all those lush, tangled tendencies welling up around the ordered, bordered Ways of School.
To encourage myself that, while lately I have been feeling more than usually More, this seems to be my season for its unapologetic flourishing.
To mindfully be my own case study both for God’s makes-no-sense abundance and for how extraordinary and ordinary might matter-of-factly merge. I don’t know why I overflow in the ways that I do, and since I’m made this way it’s not special the way focused, careful, long-term work is special (see: Olympic medalists). Still, I’m well aware that I’m not usual… which keeps me curious about what God’s up to via my person.
Plus now we can all have a completely different picture when someone says “monkey mind”!