Amazing, isn’t it, how we amuse ourselves when we’re doing “monkey work” tasks that are so repetitively simple that a blindfolded ape could do them? Our bodies are occupied, but our wandering minds take off on a side trip of their own.
For instance, every day of every week, I fill in a log of observations about Cambria’s weather conditions.
Some days (when I’m on deadline and leashed to my computer and phone), those comments are based on what I can see outside my office window. Other times, when I’m on the run all day — chasing stories, going to meetings, or doing interviews or errands — I write down what I’ve seen, weather-wise, in a variety of North Coast microclimates.
My observations show up in The Cambrian’s weather box, usually on Page 13.
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One recent morning, after I looked outside and saw a sea of fog and drizzle (yay!), I keyed in, “Cloudy, foggy, drippy and humid.” Then I started to giggle.
Husband Richard, who was passing by my office, asked what was so funny.
I answered, “This weather report sounds like a firm of soggy lawyers … or a new set of Snow White’s dwarves, especially if they live in Seattle,” and then I giggled again.
Well, I thought it was funny. I guess you had to be there.
We all try to find ways to fill blank spans of mind time. Kids can be great, for a while, at keeping themselves amused while their bodies are in a forced state of idleness.
Finger games and thumb twiddling distract for a while, then they’ll start to hum or sing. Then the rug rats want some sort of mind game or they resort to harassing their siblings.
From there, it’s just a blink or two before they’re twitching, twisting and bobbing up and down. (It’s a youngster’s waiting-room version of “Are we there yet?”)
“Mom, where’s my yoyo?”
“Um. At home. I hope.”
I’m right there with them. I hate waiting around with nothing to do. I guess I’m so accustomed to multitasking that if I’m doing just one thing — sitting there — my mind thinks I’m slacking off and begins to scold me.
A computer tablet or smart phone is a great way to occupy my mind while I’m, say, waiting to see the doctor/dentist/CPA, or I’m sitting in line in my car, waiting for my turn at a scrub-and-swish car wash.
A quick game of solitaire, or checking my email or Facebook page, is a super distraction when I’m big-time bored.
(Caveat: I try not to consult any sort of computerized gadget when I’m with other people, however,
because I think it’s really rude — even if said gadget is warbling, singing, whistling, buzzing or just plain ringing, the gizmo can wait. We humans are supposed to be
enjoying each other’s company, even if the get-together is work related.)
Coming prepared … to read
I’ve found the ideal way to fill time while I’m endlessly waiting.
Like many of my peers, I love reading, and that includes magazines, newspapers, fliers, brochures, even the back of the salsa jar and things people have stuck on my front door or under my windshield. I’ll read ’em all.
Husband Richard says I read him really well, but that’s another topic.
However, I rarely have time to just sit and read. So my house is filled with stacks of the magazines and other periodicals I can’t bear to toss or donate before I’ve had a chance to read them, look at the photos and giggle or scoff at the ads (“Cigarette ads again, Vanity Fair? Really?”).
Now, I keep a small tote bag full of magazines and other reading material in the car. When I go to someplace where I know be waiting for a while, I read away at my own literature.
There’s a healthy side benefit: In a doctor’s office, after all, who else is picking up those magazines from 1998 and flipping through them? Sick people.
But I do get strange looks from others when I start to tear out a recipe or page of handy hints.
“No, really! It’s my magazine! I brought it with me.”
And then I giggle. I’m amusing myself again. Sigh. Silly me.