I love studying the brain. Did you know that, pound for pound, the brain consumes the most calories in your body? Because of that, and our survival for thousands of years, the brain has developed systems to enable it to use less energy.
Routines, a brain’s ‘savings plan’. Life is all about learning new things, experiencing new things, the joy of discovery! Except for the fact that that joy of discovery comes at a cost: Your brain must process new information, new stimuli, new breath-taking views, new directions, new tastes for the first time using all the resources your brain can muster.
Your brain uses the senses, your executive processing functions, data storage, decision making, emotional responses and more whenever it discovers something new. That’s why discovery is so FUN! You are lighting up your brain, learning and growing!
The downside is that that takes energy, so your brain subliminally prefers to run established routines. You likely drive the same roads daily, shop the same stores, walk the aisles in the same order, choose the same products, and can do this quite blindly – without thinking!
I found myself in this routine pattern as the season progressed, likely because my Dad and I will literally clock 42-44 hours working – in a weekend.
Yes, from Friday-Sunday. 44 hours.
It is the farmer life, and we love it, BUT my brain says, “Shut down all other systems.” Kind of like when they used to “Divert all power to life-support” in the old Star Trek movies.
I noticed that my world was shrinking. I only drove from house to the farm 6 out of 7 days, just 2.5 minutes. I went to church Sunday morning, and Sam’s Club one night a week for supplies. I go to bed at 9:30PM during the week, wake up at 5:30AM, and follow the same routine, essentially to protect my brain.
I share all this because I know many of you do this for extended periods of time as well. You may say, yeah, but not that extreme Farmer Hugh, but trapped in routines you are, none the less.
You are living a microcosm, a tiny world of routines.
What’s the cure? For me, and for Michelle & Farmer Matt as well, travel is the best cure. Nothing lights up the brain like travel. This year, before the season started, we took the kids to hike the big canyons in Utah and Arizona.
I love my kids’ concerts. I love museums. I love visiting Penn State, my alma mater, to explore the new buildings on campus.
Maybe you’d like to get out, too. For your escape, your family’s ‘microcosm-breaking’ cure, is why we open the farm.
Get kids away from screens.
Get you away from the routine drive of your commute.
Get out of your neighborhood into the rest air and open countryside.
Get your head out of Netflix.
For heaven sake, get something NEW for your family to talk about around the dinner table!
It’s time to break the pattern of life and explore; plan an adventure; taste fresh fruit; sample 5 kinds of jam.
I was walking through the Fun Park this past weekend, and I couldn’t help but smile because the ‘sound track of the season’ was giggles, punctuated by squeals of delight.
I went to the orchard and heard the crunch and snap of crisp apples followed by “Mmmmmmmmm…, that is soooo good.”
My routines will help me survive the remaining 3 weeks of harvest season. I’ll be OK, but what if you miss it?
This weekend looks like fabulous weather, what a great chance to light up your brain; to light up your kids’ brains with the glorious wonders, tastes and experiences that can only be provided by the farm.
See you soon,