Mental Meanderings—A Look-Back at Yesterday (Monday–022023)

Between 10:00 and 12:00 AM yesterday, Jonathan, Donna, and I applied a first coat of sealer to the roof of Jeremy’s travel trailer. During this time, while I moved ladders and rolled on the thick white substance, my mind just up and left. Without asking for permission or saying a word of explanation, he got in his car and rode away. I was washing out paint brushes, rollers, and trays when he returned. Again, no word of apology or what he’d been doing for over two hours. The only hint I had came later when I found an empty McDonald’s sack in the floorboard of the Nissan Sentra.

This act of defiance made me mad so later in the afternoon I thought, “old boy, you’re not the only one who can pull that trick.” So, I got on my bicycle and left my mind at home. During the next hour I pedaled as hard as I could, burned at least a thousand calories, and obviously didn’t listen to my Lawrence Sanders book since my mind was elsewhere.

Well, by now, you’ve sensed something’s wrong about my little story, about what happened to me/with me yesterday. I’ll go ahead and admit, I made it up, everything except the roof sealer activity.

What’s my point? You know, our minds and bodies are connected, physically, but that doesn’t mean one or both don’t occasionally disappear into the forest. Most times, some of us, maybe most of us, are lost in thought. Our minds have wandered off, not physically, but mentally, into some wasteland.

What I need to do, what I want to do, what I’m trying to do is learn the art of paying attention. Some call this the art of choice. You’ve heard the following: Bill attended the meeting but he wasn’t really there. Or, Cindy’s father arrived late for her fifth birthday party, but it was as though he was in another world. Choices. Bill and Cindy’s father were physically in one place but mentally somewhere else, maybe half-way around the world.

No doubt, we live in our minds. No matter whether we’re alone or with family or friends, one person, two persons, or a crowd, we’re alone with our minds. We cannot escape it. Well, we can but I don’t like that option. We might as well conclude we are all alone to choose what to pay attention to.

Yesterday, during my 80-90 minute bike ride I listened, via Audible, to Lawrence Sanders’ The Third Deadly Sin. However, don’t assume I listened perfectly, because I didn’t. Often, a thought would appear: “I wonder what the man who lives in that older house does for a living? I only see his car there on the weekends; “Here’s where I first saw that poor stray dog. I should have rescued it,” or “why didn’t I play basketball in high school?” Of course, there were worse thoughts!

Here’s a question I’m asking myself: is attention my true source of wealth? If so, I need to ‘spend’ it wisely, and not squander it on worthless drivel.

Paying attention is a call to Bill, Cindy’s father, myself, and you, to being present, right now, right here and paying close attention to what someday we’ll clearly realize was most important. Let’s keep in mind there will be a last time for a hike in the woods with family or friends, a last time for reading, for biking, for moving ladders and rolling sealer, for slow-smoking ribs, and for every thing else we choose to do.

Choose wisely, and pay attention.

Author: Richard L. Fricks

Former CPA, attorney, and lifelong wanderer. I'm now a full-time skeptic and part-time novelist. The rest of my time I spend biking, gardening, meditating, photographing, reading, writing, and encouraging others to adopt The Pencil Driven Life.

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