THE BLOG

To Google, or to Doodle? That Is the Question

06/30/2014 10:57 am ET | Updated Aug 30, 2014

It had been a long trip traveling throughout South Africa to various cities including Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Durban and now Cape Town. I would be leaving on the afternoon flight to Athens.

I wanted to go somewhere just to relax, and my local friends suggested Kirstenbosch Garden, one of the largest and, as I realized later, one of the most beautiful gardens not only in Africa but in the world. The garden stretched over many acres and the huge mountain behind it, called Table Mountain, provided a soaring backdrop.

As I wandered about, the many flowers and trees beamed their colors onto me. It seemed as if the Roman goddess Flora had come for a visit and helped paint them in multiple shades of green and other colors. The mountain connected the gleaming vegetation, to the vault of African sky, which, like a giant star sapphire, dazzled in iridescent blue.

While there I felt I was strolling through a painting.

When we first arrived in the garden, I explained to my friends I wanted to unwind, which meant no talking, photographing but simply strolling, lolling, meandering, gazing, pausing, listening, sitting, and just slouching about, that is, to use the Doodle side of my brain. I had done a lot of Googling lately... analyzing, evaluating, processing, investigating, directing, teaching, organizing, codifying, classifying, experimenting etc. I felt deeply that the relentlessness to discover new facts must stop for a few hours.

I stood quietly by a gurgling, bouncy stream; its water babbled into and through my ears. In this dell of shade, water giggled everywhere. I ambled on. Suddenly trees arranged in an amphitheater rose like emerald emperors in green silence. Open armed centenarians heaving their solid brown trunks against the iris blue of the sky. These cycads stood as if in a royal court. I felt from their primeval forms that they may have even known a dinosaur or two or, at least, their ancestors certainly would have.

Often when I went to a botanical garden of a country I would seek, ask and scout for information about everything. Before, during and after I would Google for information. I had been educated to create in my mind this search engine to access more understanding. So I never allowed myself the freedom to comprehend or perceive in a different way. With meditation I had started learning to give space to other ways of interacting and gaining insight.

Meditation showed me not to grab and tackle my outside world, quickly creating my personal convenient meaning of it all. Instead, in silence, to let myself be still and observe without drawing any conclusions. Just to be still, to be present and allow the trees, the animals, the waters, the earth, the sky, the mountains, whatever to speak to me without interference from the mania for filtering and categorizing everything.

So, today no grabbing and no tackling the Facts. I wished to do none of that. I wanted to do nothing: NOTHING. Just saunter in quiet solitude absorbing scents, admiring the wings of tenacious bees, of carousing birds, of a kaleidoscope of butterflies gulp the petaled nectar, and sail around the turquoise sky.

I had to stop myself as the Googling side of my brain unexpectedly jumped in to categorize, compare, scrutinize whenever I saw something catch my attention. "STOP," I said to my defiant jumping mind. The monkey in my mind had to be tamed!

A friend once advised me:

"Now do nothing, slowly."

I stumbled on a wooden walkway umbrelled by the arms of many trees. As I gazed a blackbird flew overhead, half of its wings a bright, glowing yellow. Maybe a piece of sun had hit it in mid-flight, I thought. His companions were the same color so maybe the same thing happened to all of them? Quickly I said to my mind, "Do not think," just watch.

Suddenly a huge tree blazed in front of me with flowers of crimson, dripping nectar. Actually it had been there for a long, long time but I only noticed it now. Tiny, tiny birds bobbing, hopping, sipped the sweet wine... ruby red splashing on their minute beaks.

Just gazing, beyond any thinking, I felt the wonder of this moment in Nature. I gasped as the miracle of Harmony revealed itself to me slowly. Suddenly a realization wandered into my mind: Harmony is when Differences complement, thus keeping the Equilibrium and, in consequence, perpetually sustain the Whole. This is Nature's code, the primary principle of her being.

Temptation came again... read! Read the sign, how old is the tree, what is it, is it native, which birds come to it... note it down and file it. File it for later Googling.

No I said to myself, once again. Do not be tempted by the thrills of thinking and storing and knowing. Keep Doodling and savor this Now. Surrender to the Flow. Feel the rhythm of existing in this Moment.

With this determined thought I just allowed myself to let the images impact me. I felt again that I was in an impressionist painting similar to Van Gogh's "The Starry Night"... swirls of color and swirls of feelings. I was flowing into the scene and feeling the ancient breath of the tree, holding its jade luminosity in my eyes; the ruby redness pulsing in my every vein.

However, occasionally still had to pay attention not to be conditioned by regimented thinking. Let it be. Let it happen I reminded myself.

For these few hours stop the info-hunting, this deadly habit of the mind. Be still and remain uncluttered. Reality is not a set of facts, conveniently structured and controlled. Feel safe with not knowing everything, feel secure without holding onto any thread. Let go and let it happen.

Soon my attention was distracted by Googlers. Japanese tourists fervently snapping and storing their souvenir photos. Spanish tongues, Las Googlers, also with their machines and locomotive words. Also a variety of Anglo-Saxon flocks intellectually watching and analyzing.

Anyway today during these hours I had made a great decision to embrace Doodling totally... pause and allow. Pause and let silence create space for new feelings and new perceptions to come at their own speed and will, if they wish to come.

From today I was given the revelation of Great Doodling so in the future I would invite my friends for an exciting time to experience Doodling. With them set an aim to introduce breaks for doodling at our work place, at our home. Quite understandably some of my Googler friends would later shriek "heretic" and say this great waste of time is a sacrilege and especially to encouraging others to follow such a doctrine. I am anathema to some of the Googling community.

Nonetheless I am adamant that "Doodle Time" is the true source of creative regeneration because nothing is done. For only then fresh space is created. In other words just to stop and be thinkless for a moment or an hour or even a day is the innovative way forward.

Why? It bursts open the ossified mind.

Want to join this innovative Doodlers Club?

Googlers welcomed as long as all antiquated minds and modes are left outside at the Door
of Adventure.

You can Doodle through this website of the beautiful Garden, where I experienced my humbling epiphany.

The link for the garden: www.sanbi.org.za