Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom - "Dirty Deeds" - Lessons from Garden Soil


"Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes."



"I call the time I spend digging in my garden dirt 'agri-therapy.'"
Scott Farnsworth

One of my hobbies is vegetable gardening, and I've learned over the years that there are many parallels between healthy garden dirt and healthy thinking.
Good dirt needs regular fertilizer. Over time, even the best of soils can run out of nutrients. A wise gardener adds compost or other fertilizer at the beginning of each growing season and then sprinkles a little around each plant as the season goes along. In like manner, quality thinking requires a steady input of new ideas to add nourishment to the brain. Engaging books and challenging conversations are excellent ways to feed the mind and help it stretch and grow.
Rotating crops helps a garden to thrive. Certain plants leach particular elements from the dirt and add back others, while different plants do the opposite. Always raising the same crop in the same place will ruin the soil. Analogously, repeating the same activities over and over depletes the human brain. The old saying, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is true. It is equally true - based on my observations of many retirees - that "All play and no work makes Jack a dull boy." Varieties of tasks and interests, both at work and at play, keep Jack's and Jill's brains lively and alert.
Lying fallow is essential from time to time. After I raise a fall garden and a spring garden, I don't garden during the summer. That's not because I'm afraid of the heat, but because my dirt needs to rest. It's counterproductive to garden all year round, even though the weather here would permit it. In a similar way, it's not smart to stay plugged in 24/7. The human brain is not built for incessant artificial stimulation, and I worry for those who require a never-ending fix of YouTube, video games, texting, television, and music. Quiet time, alone time, doing-nothing time, are imperative for the mental health of modern mankind. For the sake of our sanity, we need to turn off our electronic devices every now and then.

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