Think big, take a walk. Or, visa versa.

I finished reading The Double Helix by James D. Watson about the discovery of DNA's structure. Of the many things I enjoyed about Watson's story, I liked how he reflected on the project's success. This is what he was thinking after he figured out the double-helix backbone of DNA:

I briefly stopped and looked over at the perfect Georgian features of the recently cleaned Gibbs Building, thinking that much of our success was due to the long uneventful periods when we walked among the colleges or unobtrusively read the new books that came into Hefner's Bookstore.

Did you catch that? 
...long uneventful periods when we walked...
...unobtrusively read new books....

In fact, much of the account in this book about the discovery of the double-helix involved Watson's interest in dinner.

Last night at a homeschooling event, I felt some pressure from a homeschooling acquaintance to sign my kids up in a class with her children. "A bunch of kids we know are in the class and the teacher is just so wonderful," she told me.

I'm sure the class is great, and the students are great, and the teacher is just so wonderful. But, if my kids are in the class a few days a week, it means we wouldn't have time to walk to the river, or walk to the farmers' markets, or walk around the neighborhood in the middle of the day just because we wonder if we'll find salamanders in the rain or because want to see if the sunflower seeds have been picked clean by the birds yet. We wouldn't have time to take a walk to avoid other work, or to shake off some troubling thoughts, or to take a break from each other.

It's not that I'm against classes - my kids are in classes enough - but I don't homeschool because I want to fit more class time in our lives. I'd rather leave time for breathing, and walking, and having uneventful periods to think, and move, and wonder what meals to make next. When it comes to scheduling events on our calendar, I want room for the uneventful.

Even if the crowd I run with is into being busy, busy, busy, I take comfort from the scientists who had time to take walks, read books, and eat a good dinner.


  1. Amen, friend! I remember a documentary about mathematicians and it was the same, they napped, walked, did 'nothing', and the ideas came to them then, and they had then periods of being more 'busy' writing, teaching, etc. to rest again, walk, read books, and enjoy company as well as meals with friends or alone.

  2. Good stuff. It is a rat race out there. You take a step that way and you get sucked into it! I like the homey, quiet, contemplative times too. It seems like it would come naturally, but in this fast paced society you have to fight for the margin space.

  3. Totally in agreement with you here. Some classes and the like are good, but stuffing our days with too many of these only mess with why we decided to homeschool and take a more natural approach to learning in the first place. Thanks for stopping by my blog-if you need rocks, we have zillions of them (LOL) and would be ever so glad to be rid ourselves of some! LOL
    Take care!

  4. quiet, down time. I need to make more of this happen again.

    good reminders.


  5. Silvia, the more time I spend with math and science people (in real life or through books), the more I like them!

    Pam, you said it - it can be a battle to stay out of the rat race. Seems topsy-turvy.

    Sheri, I'm sure you do have plenty of rocks! I'll admire them from your blog and save you the postage, lol.

    Amy, I picture you and your family relaxed in Peru. Tell me that it's so!