Annual Solstice Letter 2016: A Particular Phrenology


Diagram 1. My Particular Phrenology

If you have an exceptional memory, you may recall TWO years ago I wrote a post about my teenage heartthrob, John Fogarty. If not, click on the album cover below (with gratuitous photo of said heartthrob).


In that post I mentioned I’d heard an NPR interview about Fogerty, who after fifty years playing guitar, still spends hours every morning practicing. I wrote, if anyone already knows how to play guitar, it’s John Fogerty! It set me wondering if there was anything I liked doing so much I’d spend hours doing it every day when I didn’t have to.

At first, I was disheartened, thinking I put off what I wanted to do until I’d caught up, had enough time, finished my to-do list, etc. But then I enumerated what I did every day and realized I actually did the thing(s) I wanted to be doing. I also realized there were two things I truly needed to do daily–like John Fogerty clearly needs to play guitar–and three others I wanted to do, and I could stop beating myself up about not doing whatever it was I thought I should have been doing.

I then asked “What are the thing(s) you want to/would do every day if you didn’t have to do the things you do?” And said: “Tell me yours and, in the next post, I’ll tell you mine.”

WELL. A bit o’ time has passed. I did, however, work on the answer, even though the responses from you were few. I realized that’s because many of you are: 1. OLD (i.e., you’ve already figured this out whereas although I too am old, I am still learning), 2. RETIRED (i.e., you have plenty of time to complete have-tos and want-tos whereas I was not whence I wrote the initial post), 3. TOO BUSY (i.e., either doing your have-tos like working or want-tos whatever they may be), 4. A FELLOW INTROVERT!

But I promised answers and thus here they are:


I need to do everyday are (Ta Da): 1. THINKING and 2. BEING OUTDOORS

  1.  I spend a damn lot of time thinking (Diagrams 1 and 2). This is probably more than you want to know, but I spent a long time THINKING about it, so here it is. I Process. Contemplate. Order. Figure. Munch. Chew. Digest. Wait. Build connections, neurons. It’s part of being an introvert, or maybe introvertedness comes from having a brain that processes like this. I experience; then my brain sorts, filters, categorizes, replays, builds networks, cross references…well, you get the idea. It takes a long, goddamn time. It’s why I live alone. Input equals processing time. More input equals more processing time. Yes, I can be quick and sharp and witty, and I can also stare at you dumbly as my brain creaks and clacks and spins reels looking for the right file. “I know I’ve got that here somewhere…” In fact, I have a story about that…okay, right, I’ll keep that one for a future post. Remind me.


Diagram 2. Mind Map  Click on Image to Enlarge
(Use at Your Own Risk; some things were omitted for your safety)

2. Being Outdoors. I dunno why this is soooo important. When I was little my mom used to say, like every other minute, “Go outside and play.” I think now it was her brain’s way of getting some processing time. I went. And when her brain reached overload and blew, I went (quickly) to escape. And after a while, outdoors became waaay more comforting a place than indoors. That’s my theory anyway. Also I think and science has confirmed, I seem to recall, that deep in our brain’s structure lurks what researchers think is a hard-wired memory of our African savanna origins. Anyway, that’s my excuse. I, like Mr. Fogerty, have NEEDS. And one is to be outside, everyday, for hours.


I think, ahem, two of the three are really subsets of the TWO THINGS, because they are A. Writing (and reading) and B. Riding which could really be part of Thinking and Being Outdoors, but I may be OVERTHINKING this. Animals. Big Thing. I’ve never really gotten over the fact I’m not an animal–well, I know I am–but I mean a REAL animal. You know, cute little round ears, cute nose, TAIL. I suppose that’s why I spend so much time with them; they are certainly much easier than people–much easier to process. 

Speaking of which last, but by far not least, dear ones, is C. Friends. Gentle friends. I truly need my friends, in ways those who have family do not. My animals give me so much, but my friends…what can I say? Thank you.

And so my small gifts to you this solstice are my humble words, the links below for your enjoyment and play, and my many thanks for allowing me to be a small part of your world.

To make your own mind map, click here for a link to the SimpleMind+ app.



6 thoughts on “Annual Solstice Letter 2016: A Particular Phrenology

  1. Hello Greer, What a lovely letter to open in the morning. I so resonate with your words, thank you for writing it! It got me thinking 🙂 Like, you thinking is part of my must do things. Have a wanderful day. No I have to go for a walk with my dog and then back to my studio to create. Warm regards, Helga

    Helga van Leipsig


  2. Well, first of all, wasn’t the Solstice about a month ago?
    Second, a bit disappointing that the image resolution of your mind map is so low I can only read the main nodes off the center phrenology… but even with these limitations I think you’ve not only done a good job of diagramming yourself, but you’ve correctly concluded that you already do most of your favorite things.

    For example, I recall you giving a nature talk one day (circa July, 1983) near the “Grotto” picnic area in Zion NP (the spot where if you take out a sandwich it’s covered in yellow jackets within seconds). You were outdoors (re: A Need to Be Outdoors) and were supposed to be talking about rocks (re: A Fascination with the Natural World) but instead you spent much of the time talking about animals (re: A Deep Respect for Living Things). At the end you reflected: “I love giving knowledge away.” (re: A Need to Share the Wonder). The only thing missing was a book in your hands (re: A Love of Reading).

    Guess you’ve been true to yourself for quite a while.

    … now about those dinosaurs on top of the Great White Throne ….

    1. Well, yes. And I wrote the post about then, but my mind map should have included “thinking so much means I’m always late”–for everything. Did you click on the mind map? I can send you a personalized, autographed copy if needed. I loved reading your rendition. You have the best memory of any one I know. It’s interesting to hear stories of myself since there’s no one around anymore to tell them. I don’t remember saying I loved giving knowledge away! True though! I wouldn’t make a very good Hopi! Did I tell the one about the bobcat skull on top of the GWT? xoxo G

  3. Ah, yes. I hope you’re not ruminating about it. I, myself, after being introduced to the topic by a friend, ahem, and after reading a number of articles and, ah, contemplating the subject have determined that rumination involves endless looping, replaying, and, it seems, a bit of negativism. Been there, done that. It seems, as mentioned in my post, that researchers haven’t yet determined which comes first, the ruminating chicken or the egg (i.e., the brain that ruminates). Since “just stop it” only goes so far, I recommend a HappyLight!

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