I’m always fascinated by people who can multi-task. Years ago, I attended a mental health conference. I was sitting in a big ballroom, several hundred people were listening to the presentation and taking notes. There was one lone woman who intently listening, but who was also knitting. She had her ball of yarn and her knitting needles, and she was working very fast.
At one of the breaks, I asked her if she was able to concentrate on the didactic presentation while knitting. She replied “ Yes, it helps me a great deal to listen. Knitting is much a calming activity.”
I liked her answer and her wisdom. Doing an activity that makes you feel calm while you are listening to someone made perfect sense. It’s like using both sides of your brain-the cognitive and the limbic centers.
Concerning our current contemporary life, we may find ourselves being bombarded daily by a barrage of 24/7 news, with all kinds of alerts be they news, or missing persons, etc. These messages can come our way via our computers, our phones, etc. Being connected does have its advantages in terms of having immediate access to information, but the down side is that sometimes “it’s all too much “and our lives, our brains, our very souls get saturated, and we can feel weighed down.
All the more reason that people who cultivate practices that incorporate art, music, meditation, quiet can be in a position potentially to better weather the storm of the constant barrage of information that is exposed to humans.
The same principle applies to those who are addressing social and political issues, particularly those that deal with inequity. I know people and organizations who are attempting to address many things at once, i.e., immigration, the economy, homelessness, foreign policy, health care. You can feel like you are doing a lot but the question arises “what is the quality of what you are trying to achieve? “This is also operative when we observe churches and religious organizations addressing social and political realities.
Some people will say:
“Let God sort everything out. “
Frederick Buechner in his wonderful book “A Crazy Holy Grace “comments:
“If God started stepping in and setting things right, what happens to us? We cease to be human beings. We cease to be free. We cease to be people who can do one thing or another thing with the talents we’re given. We become chess pieces on a chessboard “(P. 29)
Maybe, it might be wise to focus upon slowing down, especially in hectic times, including the holidays. When everything is at a bullet- train speed, it all becomes a blur and everything becomes consumed.
Keeping your eye on the knitting allows you to slow down, concentrate and think methodically about what you are doing. You can think through your options and make informative decisions that will weigh carefully both the short and long-term consequences.
Maybe it makes perfect sense for people to knit, draw, doodle while they are listening to someone speak. Perhaps, it allows our overloaded, over-heated brains to cool and really take in the moment, capture the essence of what is being communicated, along with the meaning of the experience.
May we be able to embrace both sides of our brains- the thinking and the feeling -and know that wholeness and purpose will be made available for lives now and always.
May it be so.
Originally published at Medium.com. Please hit Ctrl and click the mouse simultaneously in order to open the link. This article is also available on Twitter at @revbauer