I have spent a lot of my years confining my gerbil mind to its cage. I trained it to be businesslike, take care of details, watch out for others and make copious lists. It could run in circles, solve problems, dart and dash, but it couldn’t run free. That was normal for me.
I’m not sure when I became contemplative again. Was it when I came back to writing? When I slowed my life? Which came first?
In my childhood, I spent my days composing terrible poems while my plodding horse and I wandered over the hills. I could still lie down under spreading trees and watch for faces in the leaves or in the clouds floating across in the sky. Now I am more likely to go upstairs, take a bath and watch the curtains move with the air.
I used to have some of my best thoughts when I was vacuuming but I no longer have expanses of carpet. Filling the dishwasher isn’t as relaxing as searching for the silverware in a sink of warm sudsy water. I am very thoughtful when I garden, but it doesn’t mean I garden more. It means I have to step out of my muddy shoes, shed my gloves and head for the computer.
Nowadays when I have an intriguing thought about life I don’t shove it aside and go buy groceries. I take a walk and expand the thought. I don’t go to the telephone, or a friend’s house, I go to my writing.
So I have become an anti-social, messy housekeeper who spends her time thinking.
But now and then I have to switch back from thinker to a doer. I want to do things for and with my friends. I love spending time with my family. My other life needs tending and so there are days when I am too busy to think.
When I am thrust into organization, I am a bit stunned and confused. What am I supposed to be doing? Where was I supposed to be? My days are about thoughts and when I don’t have time for them I am unsettled. I’m more accustomed to following my thoughts than organizing them. It’s a struggle to sort my way back into “doing.”
But I’m busy today. So I’m off to take care of my list.
But I know the path back to that place inside my head.