Thursday, March 26, 2009


March 26, 2009

I'm out of town on a three-day business trip, so I've been pulled a little out of my normal routine. Having the night on my own last night was pretty novel--no homework to supervise, no practices to shuttle kids to, no dinner to have to cook. No, my night was my own last night, and that's okay every once in awhile.

Without some sort of pre-scheduled responsibility, I found myself at the end of the day wondering how to spend my evening. I headed down the elevator of my hotel room, trying to decide on a plan. By the time I got down to the lobby, I had made my decision--my plan would plan.

So I walked out of the hotel with no particular place to go, and no schedule to keep. It was a little after six, so it was still light outside. I walked wherever my feet decided to move, no objective in mind but to enjoy the sights I encountered in an unfamiliar city. (Those of you who know my less-than-stellar sense of direction know that this was a somewhat risky proposition; there was great potential for me to end up completely and hopelessly lost.) Walk I did, though, and as I meandered up and down the streets, I let my mind wander as well.

I don't do this often enough--listen in on the stream of consciousness. Like my feet, my thoughts traveled from one street to the next, one idea to the next. I listened to my inner self commenting on the architecture, the skyline, the quaint little neighborhood I passed through. I found myself looking carefully at the intricate pattern on the roots of a gnarled old tree at the park I passed, and noting the various expressions of the passersby. I took in far more than I usually do when I am headed somewhere with a purpose or a goal.

Because it was just me, I could let my thoughts aimlessly wander across the landscape, attaching my observations to random bits of memory and knowledge and emotion. Incomplete sentences, fragmented ideas, half-remembered experiences, fleeting impressions, seemingly disjointed connections, all bubbled to the forefront of my consciousness, vivid mental snapshots to be filed away later. I suppose we usually take in these images in this way, but we don't always know they're there, because we don't take the time to listen in before they slip into the realm of the subconscious.

Sometimes I let my feet move in the most familiar direction out of habit. They know the path and the plan, and I get where I'm going on autopilot. Honestly, sometimes that's necessary. Routines and schedules and plans are important. But you know, when I let myself go down another path, an unfamiliar one that reminds me take it all in and to listen in on my journey, I remember how much I miss out on when I'm not hearing my true voice. I need to remember when I get back home to sometimes point my feet in a new direction.

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