The sweet little song “Yankee Doodle” that we learned as children dates back to the Revolutionary War and earlier.
The word “doodle” implied that someone who was labeled a doodler was lazy and, overall, had a lot of negative characteristics.
Fast forward to present times where doodling is considered by many as a waste of time and a childish activity; something to be embarrassed about and to keep to one’s self.
The song has had many different lyrics added to it, especially through the years of the American Revolution. David Seg wrote about the Revolutionary War, “the Red Coats (British) were delivering the most avarice, schoolyard insult in the schoolyard insult book. They (Brits) were suggesting that the American soldiers were gay… and bumbling actually.”
In those times (mid 1700s), the British soldiers used the work “yankee” to refer to American colonists who were soldiers, the British considered “doodles” as fools and, furthermore, the guy in the song rides a pony instead of a horse (like a real soldier), which makes him even more ridiculous.
The question raised is why is this doodle guy riding into town anyway? Is it his intention to become one of those hyper-stylized British fellows back home, in jolly old England, known as Macaroni?
A bit of history here from the 1700s. The group of young men back in England, labeled themselves macaroni, which had little to do with Italian pasta. It was a name chosen by some British fops in the 1760s and 1770s, who were a group of young men who took the name from Italy.
Men’s clothing in England, in that bygone era, was plain and drab as opposed to the more flamboyant dress of Italy and France. Back home, the English macaroni’s dress style scandalized the conservative British establishment.
The British soldiers sang the song to mock the American soldiers.
As it turns out, the Americans started winning the war and sang “Yankee Doodle” with gusto. Chances are that the Brits’ interpretation of this ditty was not even known to the colonists.
Over the centuries, “Yankee Doodle” slowly took on a totally new meaning. This transformation is known as reappropriation, which can be applied to a term, an idea or a song that has transformed from its original meaning to an entirely different one.
“Yankee Doodle” is the anthem for the state of Delaware and we now have a National Doodle Day (Feb. 6). How times do change!
We all know what it is like to be bored. Our brains seem to require some level of frequent stimulation. Humans of all ages seem to frequently experience some level of boredom.
My cat, who requires a frequent amount of stimulation, gets bored quite easily. She amuses herself by bothering the older, more sedentary cat, just to get some action going.
Unfortunately, as adults, we must exhibit a certain amount of decorum when we find ourselves in a boring situation. I find myself, all too frequently, having to sit quietly and listen to some very boring talks.
Speakers should know, and be given a strong notice, to strictly stick to their time allocations. We all need to pause a moment to reflect on the boring situations in our lives.
Long phone calls from long winded relatives, who don’t usually pause between sentences, is maybe a reason to consider doodling. The excuse that somebody is at the door… gets old.
Cell phones are fairly good for terminating incessant phone talkers (“Sorry, sorry, I’m in a dead spot... No reception...”).
There are other boring situations in which we may find ourselves, but in those cases doodling isn’t appropriate, unless you’re under age 5. Church comes to mind. Worry beads may be a simple alternative to doodling if subtly kept in one’s pocket.
Doodling is in. It may be the way to help relieve our boredom and, at the same time, make us smarter and more creative.
Recent studies indicate that doodling boosts blood flow to the media prefrontal cortex of our brains. This activity can lead to helping us be in more positive moods.
It is also suggested that the act of doodling could be a way of working out our problems that are unconsciously bothering us.
Sunni Brown speaks and writes about doodling as a powerful tool to promote thinking.
Brandon Spector is a doodle proponent who describes doodling as a mental tool that improves conversation, memory, creativity and happiness. He notes that even past presidents have doodled on the job. Add Da Vinci and scores of renowned writers to the list.
Spector mentions that the human brain, when in a boring place, often creates its own stimulation by daydreaming, which may not be the best thing while trying to pay attention.
Doodling, on the other hand, keeps the brain in the present. Some believe that doodling may be better than active listening. Many serious studies support the merits of doodling as do several articles in the Reader’s Digest. One suggestion is to doodle about happy thoughts rather than negative ones.
No fuss, no muss, no expense — what’s stopping you? Science says, do it.
(Pinter is owner and founder of Psychological Services Inc., with offices in Sunbury, Bloomsburg and Danville. She writes “Slice of Life” for the first Sunday of each month.)