Last night was a porch sitting kind of night. It was just cool enough to be comfortable on my west-facing back porch, so I could sit and let the sun wash over me on its way to bed. I spent about 20 minutes there, with one of my dogs shade-bathing in the cool green grass underneath my feet. He and I were both content to “set a spell,” which is unusual because we are the restless ones in the family. I wasn’t reading or writing or talking on the phone.
I wasn’t Facebooking or Tweeting.
More importantly, I wasn’t contemplating doing any of those things.
While I rarely allow myself the luxury of letting my mind wander, it’s even more rare that I sit and focus my attention on one thing - a writing idea, or a plan of action for my life, or even the menu for next week’s meals.
Recently, I’ve come to the realization that my writing - in fact, much of my life - suffers from my inability or unwillingness to think.
I’m talking about the kind of deep thoughtfulness when you focus your intellectual energy on one topic and one topic only, whether it’s the points you want to convey in an essay, the type of life you want to live when you retire, or whether to buy kitchen spice racks for the counter or wall spice racks or even whether to buy a spice rack at all.
Just as my body flits from one activity to the next, so do my thoughts, never seeming able to stay still but whizzing across the landscape of my mind like wispy cirrus clouds on a summer afternoon. I want to slow them down, fluff them up with content until they lie heavy and firm on my brain.
How do I make that happen?
This summer, I’m going to commit to more thoughtful porch sitting time. Undoubtedly some of it will be like last night, simply letting my thoughts run idly through my head.
But I’m intentionally planning some time for pure thinking - setting my mind on a topic and keeping it there for more than 30 seconds at a time. And even if I don’t come up with anything that’s worth more than a penny, I still think it will be time well spent.
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