What Do You Think About When You Are Not Thinking About Anything Else?


I wonder what you ruminate about when you are showering, brushing teeth, IMG_4972 washing dishes, looking out the window, those kinds of things? What random thoughts fill the spaces in your mind when you are alone and not diverted by watching, listening, tweeting, or working?

Maybe I’m looking for reassurance that I’m not the only one whose thoughts stray to the utterly ordinary, like what I should have for dinner, did I order glass straws, and what should I watch later— Rachel Maddow or The Bachelorette.

When I was blogging regularly, my thoughts made me a better companion to myself. I would capture random quirky stuff that popped into my mind, like my dog’s self esteem and what heaven looks like.

When I was in my 20s (I’m now in my 70s), I read that each day should include something:

Intellectual (check, learning German)

Physical (check, biking to dinner dates)

Spiritual (check, if wishing on stars counts)

Creative ()

Social/Community (check, neighborhood dog parties in my yard)

I suspect my creative vacuum is what leads to my, well, vacuous thoughts or is it vice versa? After all, when I was writing a book, my mind was always filled with ideas for advancing the narrative. When I was performing storytelling or standup comedy, I sharpened my spiel from before I opened my eyes until after I closed them at bedtime, checking both creative and intellectual boxes.

To find out what I’m thinking about, I decided to track my thoughts. But it doesn’t work when you’re paying attention, like just now I was washing my hands, so for this exercise, I noticed myself saying to myself, “I’m washing my hands.”

Here’s a less scripted thought I had today. I had to get something notarized. I was drawn to the woman’s shiny, all-same-length nails and tidy hairdo. I imagined her house must be perfect and wondered if there is a correlation. There is for me: I hardly look perfect and my house, though homey, is also not perfect.

And then walking home through murky air that portended a storm, I thought, I need to exercise. Maybe I’ll turn on some rock and roll and jitterbug with a doorknob. Then I went to a recurring thought about having a neighborhood dance party, which would have the benefit of adding to my social connection/community box.

The current state of our country begs to be acknowledged as a thought trespasser like never before. But I can’t even.

I’m eager to know what you think about when you are doing solitary ordinary things. Would you comment below?

PS Romantic obsessions disqualify you from this survey.


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