Friday, October 9, 2015

Been Thinking

When was the last time you set your mind free? By free, I don't mean you did something fun or relaxing, I mean you did something that was mindless -- something you can do without thinking about what you're doing, therefore leaving your mind free to go wherever it wants to go. In today's culture our minds are constantly engaged. We go from device to device, and our mind is constantly required to focus. Perhaps you're thinking, "but I play video games, that's pretty mindless." Really? Maybe so, if you have absolutely no intention of winning, but I think most of us play to win, which requires us to pay attention to what's going on. Let me illustrate. 

I have a condition called Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) which takes over my body when I get relaxed and requires me to get up and move. I won't take time to try and explain it, but if you really want to know more you can Google it and find tons of information. Anyway, sometimes I get to the end of my day and I realize I have forgotten to take my RLS medication during the day, which allows me to relax and go to sleep at bedtime. You see, it is when I start to relax that the evil RLS activates and requires me to get up and move around, so I need to take small amounts of medication all through the day, keeping my body from allowing the RLS to activate. It's on such days of forgetfulness, which is probably due to being "connected" on one of my devices, that I have to do something which will require me to engage my mind so that I will not relax. I have one particular computer game that does just that, and whenever I am plagued with insomnia due to this condition, I know that I can play that game and it will require a connection with my brain to keep it occupied until my medication kicks in and helps me settle down. So in other words, playing games is not really all that mindless. Our brain is engaged in what we will do next so that we can win. 

Today, I was cleaning my refrigerator. Why, you ask? I know, its not something most of us do frequently. But here is the story leading up to the "cleaning of the fridge." My fridge basically died -- well, the computer board in the fridge died, so it had to be removed and sent off to be repaired, which meant the fridge was unusable until the part can be reinstalled. So, I had to move every thing out of my fridge and into the "spare fridge" in the laundry room. That was when I noticed that my kitchen fridge was absolutely filthy. I don't even remember the last time I cleaned the inside of it. While it was full, I really didn't notice the sticky, gooey shelves and the crumbs that had fallen onto the shelves and into the drawers. Once empty, however, it was painfully apparent that I had neglected it. 

Cleaning the fridge is a mindless job. As I removed shelves and drawers and washed and dried them, and wiped down the entire inside of the appliance, I realized my brain felt free. My thoughts were just wandering from thing to thing and moving around in my brain like they haven't done in a long, long time. I started thinking about how differently I live than the way my mother lived. My mother never neglected to clean out her fridge. It was a part of her job as a homemaker. She took her job very seriously and it included making sure every inch of her home got cleaned on a regular basis, keeping all our clothing clean and in good repair so that we always had something ready to wear, making sure the children were disciplined and kept their things orderly, having meals prepared and served at regular times and being supportive of my dad as he provided the means for her to do all this. I began to wonder if I really take my job as a homemaker that seriously. I have piles of things to be done here and there around the house, and for some reason I never seem to get to them. I sometimes go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. I don't always make my bed. My husband sometimes has to remind me that he needs clean underwear, and "would you please do laundry?"

Thinking about that, I wondered why I'm like that. I didn't start out that way. I started out doing things the way my mom did them and tried to follow her example to keep my home orderly and engage with my children and prepare meals. But, at some point, that began to change, and if I'm honest with myself, I think that change started creeping in about the time I got my first "device." I discovered the world of the internet and it seemed so much more fun than taking care of my home and my family. It was a whole new world where I could explore and connect and shop and learn and create, etc. But I can see now it's a world that keeps my brain constantly engaged so it is never free to just think whatever it wants to think. It doesn't get a chance to ponder. 

Instead of filing a stack of papers, or washing the dishes, or folding the laundry -- all jobs that I can do while my brain thinks about other things, I tend to sit at my computer and focus on things that require my brain to be fully engaged. I didn't realize how taxing that was until today. It was almost like I could hear my brain "sigh" with relief when I started to clean my fridge. "Finally, she's doing something that I don't have think about!" 

So, here I am, writing about something that my brain conceived while it was free to think. Imagine that.