That thinker doesn’t look very comfortable.
Leaning back in a rocker — now that’s my preferred contemplation pose, knitting needles clacking or netbook keys tapping.
Thinking about thinking, writing about writing, posing quandaries, positing solutions.
That’s some of what i had in mind when i conceived of this site years ago, in particular with the Ruminations tab.
To me the term has always had an agreeable association with “a reflective thinker characterized by quiet contemplation” [Free Dictionary].
For obvious linguistic reasons, i recently wondered if there could be a relationship to the thirteenth century Persian poet Rumi. As fitting as that might be, the theory apparently has the lamentable disadvantage of not being rooted in fact.
It turns out the root of ‘rumination’ has a more down-to-earth source. Ruminants are animals who ‘chew the cud’ — gaining additional nutrition from what they ingest by later remasticating what had been only partially digested.
Yuk — not the most pleasant image. And yet i do relish the idea of turning one’s attention to a prior experience in order to glean further nutrients from it.
For me that is exactly what the process of writing creative nonfiction achieves.
I’m coming to understand, though, that the term is gaining wider use lately in a negative sense, referring to an inner thought process more problematic than productive. One that keeps a ruminator stuck in futility, either replaying a past event or worrying about a future one.
This is what prompted me to post about how i think of the term.
When i see a friend or family member struggling with depressive ruminating, i’m aware that my personal methods for coping with difficult thoughts and emotions wouldn’t necessarily help them with theirs…
It reminds me of the phenomenon of seeing someone else’s eyeglasses slipping down their nose and responding by pushing up one’s own.
Still, the action comes from empathy, from being able to relate to their issue at some level.
I suppose one reason the statue above is, well, thought-provoking is that observers see themselves in it.
Similarly, seeing ourselves in each other is key to connecting, and to doing so with creativity and caring.
That’s worth reflecting on.