During the past three weeks I set about 10 campfires. The most time-consuming part of the process is finding sticks. Tiny sticks that ignite easily. Large sticks that hold enough heat to help logs catch on fire. Not just any stick will do. No pine. Nothing that can’t be broken over a knee or under foot. Rotten, green and wet sticks are also undesirable. Finding the perfect stick is like finding a small treasure.
I noticed that after just a few campfires I was always on the look out for sticks, even when I didn’t need them. Hiking up a mountain I would see the perfect stick and would have the urge to pick it up even though I was 5 miles from the car and 20 miles from the campfire pit. There is probably something very caveman-ish about my stick obsession but it does illustrate how our brains work, particularly the sub-conscious brain.
Good subconscious problem solving
Creatives talk about the muse. Popular daily bloggers say that their brains get into the habit of constantly looking for the next interesting topic to write about. Ever noticed that the best ideas come right before bed, in the shower, walking or gardening? I think this is because our brains are coasting and it gives our subconscious a chance to chime in with an idea. Give your brain a problem, or someone else’s brain a problem and the subconscious will constantly work to solve it. This is good news if you have a big problem to solve or if you have continual work that needs a flow of new creative ideas.
Bad subconscious problem solving
Sometimes our brain doesn’t know when to stop. Just like my compulsive stick habit our brains may carry on trying to solve a problem that has already been solved. When you find yourself second-guessing or reversing a decision it may be our subconscious at work. Ask yourself, is this my subconscious still working at solving the problem? Or did we truly arrive at the wrong solution?
This is all easier said than done, I know………. Oh goodie! I see another stick!