Last week, I wrote a meditative piece on the role that solitude plays in the life of the mind, and how I felt it to be akin to entering Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone (see here). I suggested that if you expose yourself to solitude on a regular basis, you might increase your chances of receiving “visitors” from your own personal Twilight Zone—your imagination. And yesterday I noticed that the New York Times ran a feature reviewing what researchers are indeed finding out about the importance of day dreaming to the human mind. One key finding has to do with creativity:
[P]eople prone to mind wandering also score higher on tests of creativity . . . To encourage this creative process, Dr. Schooler says, it may help if you go jogging, take a walk, do some knitting or just sit around doodling, because relatively undemanding tasks seem to free your mind to wander productively. But you also want to be able to catch yourself at the Eureka moment. “For creativity you need your mind to wander,” Dr. Schooler says, “but you also need to be able to notice that you’re mind wandering and catch the idea when you have it. If Archimedes had come up with a solution in the bathtub but didn’t notice he’d had the idea, what good would it have done him?”
In other words, the researcher is recommending that you practice going into solitude (taking walks, etc.). And if you make a space for solitude in your life, keep pen and paper handy, for you never know when your personal Twilight Zone—your subconscious—on calculating its sums outside of your conscious attention, might pay you a visit and report what it has found.
It has been said that the idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Yet that’s only if you equate the demonic with your imagination (as St Paul did). If you’re free of such a superstition, why not let Paul’s devil in? Or Rod Serling.
Who’s that knocking on your door?