Quiet Day

I went into Brandon yesterday and had coffee with a very special friend first thing in the morning. It was a great way to start a day and after several days of seeing no one, it made me feel human.

On the drive home, the rains came and I began to worry about my kitties and how they were outside in all the wetness. So, I drove faster than normal.

As I pulled in to the driveway, I was greeted by a few wet furry faces who looked at me as if to say “how could you?” and the guilts set in.

But a few treats later and they had all forgiven me. Now, don’t get me wrong … cats can hold grudges better than any living animal, but two things worked in my favor. Firstly, the aforementioned treats. And secondly it was still raining outside, so they knew that even though my office door would stay open, they still were better off sharing the space with me.

So, a tentative truce was signed and I felt loved once again.

When the rains had subsided, they meandered back outside to see what damage all that nasty water had done to their playground. And I watched them leave, returning to my loneliness.

But then I thought, “let’s grab the camera and see what the rain has done” … hence the pics at the end of this blog. As neighbors drove by, there is little doubt that they noticed me leaning into the wild growth and pulling strange poses.

And if they hadn’t already arrived at the conclusion that I had lost my senses, then they very likely did now.

But I didn’t care. I knew what I was trying to get, even if no-one else did.

I had spotted a couple of under-hanging drops of water that hadn’t yet made it to ground and immediately came to the idea that they presented a perfect environment for me to frame myself in an edited shot.

So, enjoy. And yes, they are edited … I didn’t really get locked in a raindrop!

Although there have definitely been times where I felt trapped like that.

But not today. Today was destined to be a quiet day and that is OK too. Quiet days can be a calming balm in between days of action.

So the whole concept of quietness and how we use moments like that took hold of the few remaining brain-cells that I haven’t lost and I began to look deeper into how us humans have skills that can be used best at times like these.

In times of real action, much of our decision process and therefore our thought process is linked to fight or flight type responses. Should we do something, react somehow, advance, retreat? These tend to be short decision processes and they are very integral skills to our success in life’s moments.

In mundane moments where we do repetitive actions, such as walking, driving, watching TV, listening to music, our brains reduce their involvement and often put us into “auto mode”. This mode doesn’t even produce much in the way of content for our memory bank, which is why, for example, we can be in the middle of a long drive and suddenly remember that we don’t even remember the last fifty miles.

Sleep time is a time of forced-rest and our brains process and commit to memory important stuff from the day. But it mainly does so as a background activity that reduces overall activity and allows our body to recover from exertions and strains.

But this day presented a period of unforced-rest. And unforced-rest is of particular use to people with good brains that want to plan, analyze, or even create.

For me yesterday, this became a creative time where I stuck myself in a bubble. On the surface, this might appear to be as redundant as doodling. But in reality, I was trying to create something for my granddaughter. Something to put a smile on her face and by all accounts it worked.

But most of the rest of my time of unforced-rest, I like to plan. My girls used to call me a plan-man, when they were growing up. And they were right. Planning is very much a part of who I am. I enjoy applying my brain to analyzing situations (small or large) and coming up with a plan that somehow addresses the situation as best I can.

Not all of my plans work, by the way. I have endless lists of plans that failed under the close inspection of real-life. But though they produced nothing effective that helped whatever situation I was looking at, at the very least they stretched my brain.

Humans have a very powerful brain (well, not so much republicans) and stretching them is an important aspect of how we have evolved. It is why, as a race, we excel in invention.

I doubt very much if someone actually set out to invent the world’s first wheel. For hundreds of years beforehand, large objects were immovable, carried by teams of slaves, or were rolled into place on huge logs.

Bill and Melinda Gates didn’t establish a foundation with a view to inventing the wheel. No. It just occurred to someone. And very likely occurred to them when rains made plowing the field impossible and there was nothing but reruns on TV.

I am not claiming we are the most intelligent creatures on the planet, but our inventiveness is one of our trademarks that make us special.

It is why I really enjoy watching creative people and trying to understand their original concept more than how they actually completed their creation.

But how many times have you found yourself in a time-wasting mode? These modes are so counterproductive. They are not a time of real rest. If they were, we would be either sleeping or enjoying something that entertained us or made us feel good.

I don’t believe in sins in a religious sense, but in a moral sense, wasting time is immoral. It is something that we have that can be put to use, either for ourselves or for others.

But more importantly, time is available to us in a very limited quantity. We don’t know when the clock runs out but eventually it does. And therefore it is extremely precious and valuable.

So next time it rains or you find yourself unable to do something of significance, turn on the switch at the back of your brain and invent a wheel.

After all, nothing is immovable.