Not for the first time, I caught myself staring off into space. Looking at nothing but staring far, far away, somewhere I didn’t recognise I’d gone until I pulled myself back.
Not for the first time I wondered at myself, marvelled at the ease of getting lost in a distant place. I have no words to describe this place, no feeling or physical sensations. Instead I have a sense of surprise when I realise that I’ve gone away and come back again.
It’s not that the real world is difficult to hold onto. It’s not that I’m discontented with what’s right in front of me. Instead, I think that my mind likes to seek out quiet. We’re surrounded by so much noise and distraction and I actively engage in pursuits that require me to be right where I am. I run, I ride my bike, I practice yoga, I dance, I go rock climbing. If you lose yourself there, you’re lost. The mind must be quiet. It must focus.
I think moments drifting away are like this, too. They’ve very different in form but similar in purpose. They’re a means of shutting out and opening up. The difference is in focus – with the activities described above, there’s intentionality. When I finally notice I’ve left this world for another, I didn’t mean for it to happen.
But clearly I needed it. Clearly my mind needed a rest just then. Just now. There was nothing in my hands and I left for a moment. The book next to me remains closed.
Much of the time I like this world, the real world, very much. But the rest of the time I’m aching for a different one.
I caught myself just looking out at the ocean multiple times per day when I spent a week at the beach this summer. That’s how I saw the dolphins and the open-water swimmers practicing with floaties. That’s how I saw the sun move and the tide advance and recede.
I saw the world around me because I was able to let go of distraction and be exactly where I was. I got lost, and I found what I didn’t know I’d been missing.