Mind Wandering Days Are Over

January 20th, 2007

“I have a fear of letting my mind wander… I’m afraid it wouldn’t come back.”

David Arnold

Liam’s Answer

In this modern world, where there are millions of things to be distracted by, it’s easy to let one’s mind wander. For example, often while I’m watching “Survivor”, I imagine myself trapped on an island, surrounded by a bunch of horrible, self-centred, ultra-competitive, introspective, smelly people who have no real motivation in life apart from befriending me, then stabbing me in the back and keeping all the money for themselves. Then I realise I shouldn’t be watching time-shifted TV in the office.

I once had an awful mind wandering experience while on a date with a girl named Sally, who I realised half-way through the evening had a wall-eye, a laugh like a horse, and breath that stank worse than a dairy farmer’s underpants. To distract myself, I imagined I was dating a gorgeous super-model, and accidentally started calling the girl I was with ‘Claudia’, and asking her about her career highlights, and wanting to know what life had been like married to the amazing illusionist David Copperfield. Luckily, she thought I was just paying her a compliment, and that I though she was as delightful to the eye as the aforesaid Ms Schiffer. Of course, I did nothing to disabuse her of that misapprehension. In fact, at the end of dinner, I even let her think that maybe I was David Copperfield by leaving via the bathroom window and disappearing on her without paying the bill.

In letting your mind wander, don’t be too scared that it won’t come back. The mind likes vast empty spaces to wander in, and it seems to me, David, that between your ears is just such a place.

Chris’ Answer

The most annoying symptom of a wandering mind is walking into a room and then wondering why you walked into it. This happens to me so many times in a day, that I’ve solved the problem once and for all. I now stop at the entrance of every room I walk into, pull out a notepad, write down the reason I’m about to cross the threshold and put the pad back into my pocket. I then take two steps into the room, stop, ask myself what the hell I think I’m doing, pull out the notepad, read it, remember, and then go about my business.

This is enormously useful. I keep my notebooks, and over time I can summarise what I do on a minute by minute basis. For example, this morning, my slips of paper tell me I spent 46 rooms looking for my car keys, 19 rooms searching for a new notepad because I was runnig out of pages, and 35 rooms attempting to locate a new pen because I was now running low on ink. The rest of the day was disappointingly undocumented.

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Mind Wandering Days Are Over