Sparkle Schoolhouse
Pruning: Apricots, Neural Pathways and Stories

2013-05-03
Pruning: Apricots, Neural Pathways and Stories

When we think of building brains, we don’t generally think of pruning. When we think of the transformational stories in our life, we don’t often think of pruning. When we are tasting fresh, plump apricots our thoughts rarely turn to pruning. And yet, none can grow, thrive and be abundant without pruning.

To make something strong, something authentic, something vital – we must actively let go of what is not thriving, serving or is relevant. Perhaps there was a day when a branch, a mental dynamic, a narrative twist or a relationship was important. It offered just the right thing at the right time. And then, some time later when growth has taken place and the unexpected becomes part of the story, that same branch is now in the way. Well, you have a choice.

You can keep the branch and work around it. This is not a bad thing – but it may not be the one that yield the most fruit. And, lets be honest, sometimes it can threaten the whole tree.

In growing brains, it is not the amount of neural pathways that makes smarts - it is the clarity of them. Like ants looking for honey, it is not the amount of paths that lead to the honey, it is the clarity of the few paths that makes for efficient honey harvesting. Children’s brains are in a constant state of pruning. They see things, hear things, experience things and this prunes away the casual to keep the important – whatever that may be. This is why your media choices are deeply relevant – the content and form of the media actually influences the structure of their brains.

The same goes for apricots.

We almost lost three 25 year old apricot trees. They were covered in lichen, their branches were leggy and thin and their leaves seemed anemic and vulnerable. We were lucky if they produced a dozen flowers and elated when we saw one or two spotty orange apricots by season’s end.

Then our gentle woodsman Bill saved them. He pruned them down to their central gesture – their living gesture – their simplest, most elegant shape. And the next spring they were covered in thick, deep green leaves.

and then this year – this happened:

apricot-1

The tree was covered in blossoms – covered. Never have I seen a happier tree.

In Sparkle Land, there is a lot of editing. Tons of inspiration, marvel and wonder too – but without editing, we would be lost. Pruning is key. Pruning is the key to a clean story, abundant fruit and indeed clear, uncluttered thinking.

About the Author

David Sewell McCann

Story Spinner

David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.

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