“Virgil lay in bed in the dark…in contemplation. He’s never formulated exactly what he thought about contemplation except that it was superficially like meditation. You found a quiet place—a bed would do—and worked with your brain. Instead of trying to empty your brain, as you did with meditation, you filled it with a particular subject matter and stirred it around, making new connections, as ridiculous as those connections might be.” From Deep Freeze by John Sanford.
Virgil was stuck. His investigation of the odd murder in the brutal cold of small town Trippton, Minnesota was going nowhere. Everyone and no one was a suspect. Meanwhile the snow continued to pile up.
And so, Virgil lay in bed, not quite awake and not quite asleep, occasionally staring up into the rafters, as all he had seen and heard in his investigation swirled around in his head. Suddenly something fell into place…
I was sitting in my quiet living room late at night with only a small lamp over the chair shedding a tiny light while I turned the pages, immersed in Virgil’s plight and eager to find out what would happen next. I paused, gazed into the shadows and stirred around the subject of contemplation and how it leads to flashes of insight about difficult issues.
It occurred to me that when I’m thinking about something, I’m often following Virgil’s method of contemplation. I completely tune out what’s around me and stare blankly, sometimes at the ceiling, sometimes at my feet. I empty my head of everything except what I’m contemplating.
Sometimes nothing happens except I fall asleep or wiggle my toes. But sometimes…magic!
Just like Virgil, as I stir around my thoughts, new connections appear. Paths that had never presented themselves to me before opened up and lead me in new directions. Connections that at first seemed odd begin to make sense. And when the magic happens…suddenly a solution to a problem or a new idea to try or a missing piece to a puzzling situation appears.
I have no idea how this happens. But happen it does. A simple process yields a wonderful result. So heed the advice of Virgil Flowers. Contemplate. But first, don’t forget the most difficult and the most important thing: turn off all the technology!
Find a quiet place. Tune everything out. Fill your brain with something you’d like to work on and stir it around. Give it time for the connections to form and see what you come up with. If you’re lucky you’ll solve something. And if you’re not, you might find that you drifted off to a nice relaxing nap and awoke refreshed and full of energy. And that’s a good result too.
And since you’re wondering, Virgil solved the murder after a long and winding trip through pornographic Barbies and Kens, more deaths, deep snow, ice fishing, and travels around Minnesota. To the amazement of everyone, the culprit was…