“She is a good student…when she’s here with us,” my third grade teacher informed my parents. They looked at each other quite bewildered, knowing I’d been getting on the school bus every day. Where exactly does a truant eight year old go?
She went on to say, “Her head is in the clouds most days, I’m afraid. I have trouble bringing her back from her daydreams so she can join us at school.”
My parents didn’t really know what to make of this information. They said I seemed perfectly present when I was at home. Maybe I was, but I know I found plenty of time to float away with my thoughts at home, too.
I can remember spending long spells of time laying in the field beside our house. If I laid
down in it, the grass was high enough that it held me like a nest, cocooning my small frame. No one could see me when looking out over the field from a distance (or at least, that’s what I imagined). I would lay there and stare at the clouds. Honestly, I can’t remember what I was thinking about, laying there. Nothing? Everything?
I just remember the calming sensation of it all.
Fast forward to adulthood and I still crave that quiet space for daydreaming, and yet I also need to find the mental space for…oh, I don’t know…the bigilloin other things we must remember as adults.
A friend told me she read where a woman’s brain was likened to a computer with dozens of “tabs” all open at once. It’s a great analogy, although it seems sexist to say it’s only true of women. It must hold true for most adults, right? The problem is, with so many tabs open we can only offer each one a sliver of our attention. We start doing things like driving past our destination, making a call and forgetting who we’ve called when they pick up, reminding ourselves not to walk out the door without something, and doing just that, five minutes later.
I can’t be the only one!
I think just as the child development experts have come to strongly advocate for more “free play” time in early childhood programs, we adults need some “free thought” time. If we could just lay in the grass and think about nothing…or everything (but not in a “to do” list sort of way), how great would that be?
I know what you’re thinking….Duh, that’s called meditation. It’s not exactly a new idea.
Here’s how I do it, though. Pay attention.
Imagine I’m laying in some beautiful, tall grass, gazing up at the clouds. I am mindful of the soft breeze and the rustling leaves on the nearby trees. Then I think…
There’s no way I have time for this right now. I must be forgetting something I’m supposed to be doing.
Doing, doing, doing…something…missing….
It is a beautiful day. Just…look at the clouds floating by…
Oh cool, that cloud is shaped like a car.
Crap, I’m way overdue for an oil change. Gotta remember to make that appointment before the car blows up. Oil change, oil change…
Change…Ugh! I forgot to send a note to school about the pick up change. They hate me at school, I know it. They’re like – wait, she literally runs a school? And she never remembers to send the pick up change notes? Well, that’s rich.
“That’s rich?” Who says that? This is why you’re single, you know. Because you use expressions like “That’s rich.” Smh.
Okay, you only have a few more minutes to relax and be mindful! Be mindful, dammit! I mean, be un-mindful. Whatever. I am zen. So f’ing zen.
Uh, all I can think about is how hard to is to not think about the tabs.
The tabs! They’re all still open!
How can you be bad at thinking about nothing?
Wait, I think there’s something on me. It must be a tick. WTH am I doing in this tall grass anyway? I’m practically begging for Lyme disease right now. I should get my titers checked, just in case.
That’s what you’re forgetting, genius – your doctor’s appointment! It’s right NOW. Maybe you can still make it, that is, if your engine doesn’t spontaneously combust from neglect.
Shit, shit, shit!
That’s what we “tab-open” people call…
I joke, but in all honesty, I hate it when my brain is in this “open tab” state. Too much, too many, too, too, too. I think so many of us get used to this being normal.
I don’t think it’s normal, you guys. It’s a perpetual state of “fight or flight.”
I’m feeling overwhelmed. I haven’t felt like this in a while. Maybe the grief had numbed me. Now I am slowly coming to, and it feels like I need to catch up on the last four months of “to do’s” – get my head back in the game.
Maybe it’s not possible without a time machine, but I would love to go back to daydreaming, and when I’m asked what I was thinking about, to be able to smile and say “nothing” or “everything” (in a non to-do list sort of way) and not be completely full of shit. As opposed to furrowing my brow and saying, “Oh, nothing,” when the truth is –
“ALL OF THE THINGS. That’s what I was thinking about!”
They call meditation a “practice” and I definitely need to do just that – Practice it.
Namaste sane. Are you?
(Editor’s note: I told her “namaste sane” was a corny joke but she insisted that corny jokes and puns always amused her dad.
Also, there isn’t really an editor.)
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