I apologize for the late post today; I was having technical difficulties. And now, a confession: I wrote this post to justify my upcoming behavior. For the next three weeks, I’ll be on vacation: letting my mind roam at will like a free-range chicken. Doing so will make it impossible for Aunt Beulah to post on October 6 and 13; but she will return on October 20: rested, renewed, and eager to engage with her readers again.
It’s foolish to spend every minute of our leisure time imitating The Little Engine That Could.
When our passion for golfing, painting, fishing, spelunking, volunteering, or Words With Friends begins to feel like a job, it helps to take a break, listen to ourselves breathe, and drift aimlessly — though we should never stop spending time with our families and brushing our teeth.
Because I believe a body in motion tends to stay in motion, I exercise every day, varying the vigor of my activities. I also give myself permission to abandon my exercise routine on occasion. When I do so, whether for a few days or weeks, my rested body rewards me with increased motivation and effort when I pull on my exercise clothes and go at it again.
My passion for writing makes it my most absorbing and time-consuming activity, but I regularly abandon it for hours or days at a time. Doing so allows my mind to drift, to mull over problems, to reboot my ability to create.
When I stop writing to eat Oreos, ride my bike, or scratch my head and stare, my subconscious continues to consider issues, ideas, and techniques. Then, sooner of later, while I’m mindlessly deadheading my geraniums or cooking dinner, new ideas occur: I’ll know how to rephrase an awkward sentence, reorganize a piece for better flow, or handle a tricky transition. Perfect synonyms, apt metaphors, and future topics come to me easily when I stop pursuing them.
I also like to put aside a blog post or column I’ve finished and forget it for several days or even weeks. When I look at it again, I find weaknesses I didn’t sense when working on the piece continuously. My refreshed eyes are more discerning eyes.
No matter what activities we pursue for entertainment, betterment, or fulfillment, drifting pays dividends.
And I’m off to collect a few.