I used to do a lot more pondering than I do now. Not the fretting, worrisome kind of things that too easily occupy the waking human mind, but the big questions. The who-what-where-when and why of existence. Pondering is important to who I am as a person. It was something that made me feel connected to a deeper strata of the universe, so I made sure I had time to just think about things. Some relatives may have called this “laziness,” but I called it “creative dreaming.”
Anymore—what with work and taking on a greater responsibility for helping my elderly mother—it seems as if there are always things to do, places I have to be, tasks, tasks, tasks that interfere with those golden ponder hours. I have to carve out special chunks of time to get any pondering in, kind of like those chunks of time for writing. Often the two are in conflict and I have to forgo one to do the other. And when I do get a moment to sit and think about things, it’s jangled, broken up, a vibration dance inside myself that has trouble being still, constantly interjected with thoughts of things that need doing and guilt for not doing them.
Some of this, I realize, could be from media over-stimulation, but it’s also part of not being a kid anymore and the distractions inherent in moving into a different phase of life. I feel guilty even mentioning it, really, partly from those old voices whispering “laziness,” and partly because there are far worse problems. My elderly parent is not an invalid. She’s still up and doing for which I am extremely grateful. I do still have chunks of time to myself, even if jangled. I should be grateful for what I have.
But “shoulds” are not golden; they buy very little besides guilt. Certainly, shoulds do not build empires. And the razor’s edge of all this, the thing that cuts the most, is that writers require pondering time. I know for a fact that the less time I have for pondering and dreaming waking dreams, the more my writing suffers. If I am struggling as a writer, it is partially due to that. So pondering is not just a luxury.
I long sometimes for the serenity of an afternoon reading a profound book, one that makes my mind spark fire and sends the pondering engines into overdrive. I long for evenings in front of the fireplace, no one talking except the flames, mesmerized by their flicker and not-quite-understandable whispers, journeying through mental byways to that place where all flames originate, where fire has lips and tongues that speak plainly about The Secrets—if only you could recall them when your reverie is done.
Reverie. What a beautiful word.
I’d love to ponder this some more, but I have to go. My timer just went off and that laundry won’t do itself.