So today, I decided to walk my thoughts.
“Your what?” you ask in slight puzzlement.
My thoughts (… exactly!).
Why not? After all, people walk dogs and sometimes even cats (and if you have any tips on that, I’d love to hear them) all the time. Every pet reaches a stage in the day (usually several times a day) when they want some form of attention from you. A dog might whine and paw at you until you get off your bum and put on your shoes. I can’t speak for other cats, but my cat will choose one of the following options when trying to get my attention:
a) walk over my laptop, causing some minor technological meltdown,
b) bite the softest, most painful part of my body that’s close enough for him to reach without requiring too much effort
c) pulling down as many notebooks, papers, photographs and magazines as he can from the pile on the shelf next to my desk, with evident glee.
Why should thoughts be any different? When it comes to such aggressive attention-seeking behaviour, my thoughts are ten times worse than my cat (not least because I can’t exactly spray them with water when they refuse to desist). This is especially true when I’m trying to do something productive (work), but it’s also true when I’m doing something enjoyable and relaxing (reading). If I’m reading a particularly engaging article on the internet (let’s pretend, for the sake of simplicity, that it’s about pink elephants, even though it’s usually not), and am feeling suitably challenged and entertained, my brain will supply a steady background tune that sounds something like this:
“Yes, YES! This is so true, I know this is true because of the time when I went to the supermarket and heard this mother telling her child about pink elephants, pink elephants, yes like in Dumbo, but wasn’t that supposed to portray some sort of drug trip, yes drugs, no, not for me but I’ve always wondered what it feels like, perhaps the new character in my novel has tried drugs, perhaps not, what has she tried? What hasn’t she tried? Stop! That sounds like too much background info to figure out, I don’t have time, I hate research, I should do this when I actually have the time to think about it, when will I have time to think about it? What was that? Oh, pink elephants, yes. Yes, so true…”
*miniature brain implosion*
What made me do it today of all days? A number of things. First of all, my daily lunchtime walk was cancelled due to heavy rain and a colleague’s celebration of ten years working for the company. By the time I’d finished munching on dainty sandwiches and drinking champagne (note to self: STOP drinking alcohol at mid-day work functions, not good for body temperature regulation or clarity of mind in the afternoon), there was barely any time to read my usual blogs before I had to get back to work.
When I got home, I went straight to the blogs in question and started binge-reading (only about 6 tabs open simultaneously this time, so not too bad) about life, the universe, fat people in bikinis and early retirement. As usual when reading such inspiring material, thoughts and ideas ran amok in my head, all yelling different things at me: “Isn’t Mr Money Mustache clever?” “Shouldn’t you be working on your novel?” “You didn’t walk today, you naughty girl!” “Who cares about what size you are? Wear a bikini anyway!” etc.
Meanwhile, amidst this overload of orders and demands, I noticed I was doing my unconscious bad breathing thing again, i.e. not paying attention to the amount of air I was sucking into my body (this time through my mouth, half-open in amazement at what I was reading). If I didn’t pull myself together, I would probably end up tense and in pain from a bloated tummy. So I glanced at the clock on my laptop, which said 6:20pm, and then I looked outside at the dark clouds hanging overhead. A single, beautiful idea rose above the rest of the buzzing thoughts.
I would go for a walk. I would air out my brain. I would catch up on lunchtime’s failure and be able to log it as my daily workout (I have a slight obsession with workout statistics). I would even, perhaps, think about ideas for my new novel. Perhaps.
So I gave myself until 6.30pm to close all those tabs and then I was out of the door, striding round the back of our building towards the Desperate Housewives part of the neighbourhood (beautiful houses filled with nosy rich people). It wasn’t exactly raining, but it felt like it might, and I found I didn’t even care. Suddenly, I could let my thoughts do exactly what they wanted. I put my legs into autopilot (nice, brisk walk) and let my eyes wander wherever they felt like while my thoughts stretched their little tentacles and bounded happily about, each coming to my attention in turn and floating off again to ogle some interesting piece of scenery.
I thought about walking, about my novel (a little bit), about thinking, about writing an article on thinking, about how nice it was to walk around thinking about thinking and how I should do it more often. And then I came home and wrote this, the blog post I’d been dreaming about for a while now, but couldn’t quite pull together.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is walk your thoughts. Once a day if you can or even just once a week. Let them have your undivided attention while you do some light exercise, allowing your body to benefit as well. Not only will you feel refreshed and energised, you will be able to get back to your daily tasks without quite so many yapping voices in your head…
… or maybe that’s just me.