Soren Kierkegaard and “crop rotation”

24 Sep

Listening to a podcast about Soren Kierkegaard from the BBC (How I love you, BBC). One of his ideas is of “crop rotation”—that is avoiding boredom by arbitrarily shifting your attitude in some way. One example the podcast gives is staring at a boar and paying attention until you find interest as beads of sweat appear on its nose. My boar-Q is not high enough to know if boars will stand there long enough until their noses sweat. Most of my boar knowledge comes from visiting Little Thing 1 in Siena, Italy, where he was studying Italian—and Italians—last semester (now he has a certain whatever you call je ne sais quois in Italian, so it was a great success, as Italians are amazing). Boar is a Tuscan specialty, so we had boar in many permutations. At some sausage shops, a boar’s hairy head was mounted behind the cash register. But there was no nose sweating). Alternately, he suggests—or one of his two characters who debate in the book, one representing an aesthetic, the other an ethically-based point of view—going to the third part of a play or only reading the second half of a book, just to shake things up.

Without actually reading Kierkegaard, I will presume to speak on the idea of “crop rotation.” I love that idea, especially as a form of meditation. I have in my own home a perfect example of a crop rotator and that would be my dear husband. He has a garden, and stands in that garden for hours. “I love finding little treasures in there.” Some years the crop is very abundant, sometimes not. Sometimes he comes inside with a tiny handful of broccoli which he carefully puts in the salad, or a handful of raspberries which he waits for me to eat with Greek yogurt—presumably waiting for sweat to appear on my nose. Watching him stand out there, dreamily eyeing his corn plants is a very sweet thing. I, too, notice, that if I go walking, my mind can slow down to notice tiny tender things of beauty I might not have seen otherwise—two old men talking about a dog, or flower petals drifting down, or a squirrel holding a cherry tomato in its agile little paws. So—Soren Kierkegaard, I can’t vouch for your whole philosophy, but this glimpse into it is making me smile.

Oh, and this makes me smile, too: I listened to the podcast again, and the author, Nigel Warburton (and Kierkegaard) were referring to bores, not boars. In that case, one can certainly get them to stay still long enough to see their nose sweat!!!!

Prompt: Why not try some “crop rotation” today. Look at something in a different way. What did you see?

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