My time in college so far has proved to me that it is impossible to get by without thinking. Really though, creating your own thoughts is something that is much easier said than done. So it seems like a good time-investment to actually think about how to think. What exactly is it that makes me think well? I’ve contemplated this concept and realized that many factors can play into how I think. I’ve compiled a list of what I think is the perfect thinking environment.
- Time of day: I think more clearly at certain times of day. Sunlight helps me focus for sure. If I have to do work and study at the late hours of the night, and sometimes early into the morning, my thought process slows down and becomes blurred.
- Solitary Confinement: Often times when I need to buckle down and focus on one thing for hours on end, I like to exile myself from the world. At Dickinson I will find the quietest most discrete corner in the library and I eventually begin to enjoy the daunting aloneness.
- Coffee: I don’t know if it is the aroma, the nearly boiling water going down my throat, or the actual caffeine that helps me focus, but altogether coffee is something that contributes to an optimal level of focus.
- Weather: Some may say that a warm, breezy sunny day is a good way to clear the mind and think actively, which is sometimes true for me. On the contrary however, it is the gloomy, inclement weather that compels me to think more distinctly.
- Organization: I am most certainly one of those people that must be organized in order to think. I like things to be clear and laid out perfectly in front of me on a square table where I can see my thoughts as I put them onto paper.
As Leopold watches the patterns and lifestyle of his front yard and the birds that reside within it, there is a sense of routine that is imperative to his observational thinking. The studious manner in which he looks at nature is both diligent and time consuming. He can observe all he wants yet there will always be things that are left unseen. So it makes sense for him to continue his same routine and take note of the things that he is able. In relation to this notion of routine, my list explains the routine in which I must think in order to fully observe parts of my daily life.
I sit beneath my tree, which I call Ash, on the corner of the slightly sloped field beside Morgan Hall, and I consider my routine and try to link my thinking habits to my current environment. I follow the ridges up the trunk of the tree and it quickly begins to turn into several large skyward facing branches. It comes to a point where twigs and branches are no longer visible and the blur of green and yellow that is the soon to be autumn leaves camouflages the tree’s skeleton. The leaves create a blanket that has been torn in several sports allowing little dots of atmosphere to poke through.
The bark is rough as I slide my hand along its exterior. My fingers settle naturally into the ridges and I feel every one of the millions of small bumps on my finger-tips. The dry fall leaves sound like wax-paper as they crinkle in the wind and the stale, brisk air fills my nostrils. Ash’s leaves begin to fall as it ends another cycle of life and it resembles a dog shedding its fur or a phoenix burning to ash. I let my hand fall from the Ash’s grip and bid him farewell until I visit on another day.
Leopold, Aldo. 1949. “A Sands County Almanac.” Oxford University Press.