Your Brain On Thought

Last week and today my focus has been allowing your brain to help you in woodworking. I compared my brain to a seemingly defunct pepper plant last week. That pepper plant had sprouted peppers much to my surprise. My brain sprouts ideas with the same result in my outlook: surprise. One side of the trick is to give yourself time for the ideas to sprout.

The other side is to get a grip on what an idea is for you. Having gone to college and worked with farmers, I’ve come to understand that ideas come in two basic varieties. One is the idea that tries to establish a coordination with a larger entity: the universe, God, nature, etc. When I was taught to think in college, this is the direction they tried to take me. With farmers, an idea seemed most often to be whatever worked. When someone said, “I’ve got an idea,” they generally meant they’d come up with a working hypothesis. Since this is how I grew up, it made all the sense in the world to me while searching for ideas from the other side seemed something that people who didn’t need to struggle to live could do.

With my woodworking, I’m usually tied to a specific and very limited outcome: making a piece of furniture. Since I do custom work, ideas come to me often out of the murk much like the magic eight ball I had as a boy. You asked it a question and tilted it up. It was filled with black water and a multi-sided shape that floated around in there. On each of the sides it had a general type of answer to your question. Something would float up, and there you were. At this point in my career I’ve done enough pieces of furniture to have a few beginning places for the ideas to sprout. Earlier on, I relied on books.

Let your brain linger on thought. It’s the only one you’ve got, and your answer will show up there either in pieces or in one fell swoop.