I was listening to a podcast talking about where people find their creative time. For some it’s the shower, cooking, running, driving, etc. I was talking with Eric and Sara about this on the trail the other day. Eric noted that when life gets hectic, it could be anywhere as long as you find a place that gives your mind the ability to wander and explore topics.
For me it’s mowing the lawn while riding on the tractor. Not a push mower. I’ve done both and the push mower just doesn’t cut it (nyuck nyuck). As we talked some on the trail, I started to narrow in on what I think might be the reason and a strategy.
I started cutting lawns when I was 10. The first riding mower was this late 70s Ariens riding mower (10hp, 32″) with no back support and a weird ‘bar’ for steering. We picked it up at a yard sale and nursed it for a while. But I didn’t start seriously cutting lawns until we picked up a 1985 Wheel Horse (pre-Toro) 417-8. This was a negotiation as I wanted to upgrade my lawn cutting capacity and dad wanted a legit garden tractor. We agreed on a ‘business loan’ over several years. I loved that machine.
At my peak I was cutting 24 lawns a week. It paid for college and I racked up over 4K hours on that machine before it finally got to be more work repairing it than it was worth. I sold it around 2006. When you cut that many lawns, the act of mowing becomes brainless, I don’t even think of the most efficient patterns anymore. I can completely zone out for 2 hours.
And here is where I think we found the key insight. Finding something that occupies my body but at the same time does not occupy my brain, is where I find my ‘thinking’ time. I wonder if that is the universal consistency for everyone looking to find their most creative space.