Monday, March 15, 2010

Gardening in my mind

Once I wrote a blog about the relation between gardening and philosophizing. Philosophizing can be seen, I said there, like weeding the thoughts that I have developed until I have an ordered whole. Every single thought that does not fit in the whole I have thought out is removed or put in the compost bin of my mind where it will decay so that it can be used as fertilizer for better thoughts still to be developed. But the relation between gardening and doing philosophy is not only one of analogy. For when I walk through my garden, look at what has to be done and start to work, it always happens that my thoughts drift off to spheres that are no longer related to the grubbing of my hands in the soil, to the weeding and to the putting of plants on their proper places. I simply cannot help but it always happens. After a few moments my thoughts are far away in other worlds, although I still know what my hands are doing. Then it looks a bit as if I am two different persons. I have begun philosophizing.
It is not always so that my mind drifts to deep reflections that lead to the foundations of philosophy. Far from that. Often my thoughts are quite superficial. They can centre on what I have done today, remember a letter that I have written yesterday, go to what I have planned to do tomorrow. But frequently it happens that they are deeper and that my mind starts to work out thoughts for an article. Or an idea for a blog develops. Or my thoughts simply evaluate a book that I have read recently. Actually it is nothing special, but what is special about it is that I can never stop it. I cannot say: let me concentrate today on the garden and on nothing else. In this way it is very different from other practical activities I do. When I make a bike ride, for instance, or a run in the wood behind my house, it happens often that thoughts are restless moving through my head, but soon they gradually fade away and I am fully concentrated on this activity, the cycling the running, and on nothing else. My mind becomes empty of everything else. Sports is distracting like gardening but in a very different way. For when I am in my garden it happens just the other way around. I begin with gardening but then my gardening gradually moves to the background and I cannot stop beginning to philosophize a bit, sometimes superficially, sometimes deeper, but it always happens. And seen in this way, gardening in my garden is gardening in my mind.

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