Contemplation often gets a bad rap*. Thinking usually precedes action, and how we think can be as important how we act. But there’s an idea floating about that action – getting on with things – is somehow more valuable than the underrated art of thinking reflectively, or contemplation.
As we go about our business and the business of life we are expected to act. We behave as though our value to ourselves and others is based entirely on what we do or what we produce, rather than who we are.
As I wrote the last sentence I can imagine that while many would agree with it, they might also ask “So What? We aren’t paid to ‘just be’, we are paid to do things.” Of course we are, but in order to produce effectively, to foster creativity, wellbeing and, in short, to be in the best state of physical and mental health to continue to act productively, we have also to allow ourselves the space for contemplation.
“To arrive at the simplest truth, as Newton knew and practiced, requires years of contemplation. Not activity. Not reasoning. Not calculating. Not busy behaviour of any kind. Not reading. Not talking. Not making an effort. Not thinking. Simply bearing in mind what it is one needs to know.” (Spencer-Brown 1979 p. 110)
George Spencer-Brown, (1979), Laws of Form, E.P. Dutton, New York).
A bad rap – otherwise known as a bum rap – is dishonour resulting from false accusations or trumped-up charges.