Earlier this week I spent about an hour sitting in a local coffee shop. I did not have my phone with me. Nor did I have a pen and paper. I spent 15 minutes perusing local publications that were scattered on the table where I sat. Afterwards, I had nothing left to do. Or so I thought.
I stared out the window adjacent to the table. I watched individuals enter the coffee shop or simply walk by it. I noticed them, but my mind was elsewhere. My thoughts wandered aimlessly. I pondered a writing project that I had started to plan earlier in the day. I also noted thoughts about upcoming teaching assignments. And, sometimes, nothing came to mind.
I didn’t force myself to think about any topic. I observed my wandering without judgment. I didn’t crave Internet access to explore further any thought or idea that came to mind. Nor was I anxious about not being able to “capture my ideas” on paper.
The experience left me satisfied, focused, and connected to myself and the world around me. I wondered: why don’t I spend time like this more often given how good it feels? Back in the day before the Internet, I used to do so regularly. Now, not so much, as the ready access to technology has relegated that activity to the dustbin. Until now.
And so, one of my mantras for the new year is, “Put the damn phone down and let myself daydream.” Because I need to do so, for my own mental health and overall effectiveness.