html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: And your feet don't hurt.

Monday, February 25, 2008

And your feet don't hurt.

I found out the strangest thing last week. Is it true that you people are not daydreaming constantly? Do you really not have a handful of narratives developing at all times, that you slowly work through for a few weeks until they get old and a new one starts? When you do the dishes or ride to work or swim or even for the seconds when you walk to the printer, you don't instantly revert to a daydream?

I have a few daydreams going at all times. They are shameless, of course. I don't know which are worse, the maudlin ones where He Finally Realizes I Am Perfect or the heroic ones where I Step Up and Take Charge Because I'm the Only Person On the Scene Trained in Emergency Response. Let's see. I've led the evacuation of a burning theater. Right now, me and my friends have come upon an earthquake damaged elementary school. (I don't know why it was a multiple story building. That's not very realistic out here.) Someone has to land the 747 after everyone passes out. It isn't that impressive though. You just do what you have to at the time, and then graciously return to your regular life, blushing when you read all the stories in the paper. They'll pass soon enough. At least your friends still treat you normal.

Do some of you really not do this? I quizzed Anand relentlessly, but he says, no, he thinks about the projects he is working on and maybe how some plan is going to work out. I do that too, but in between it is all "if she hadn't been so quick-thinking, I don't know what we would have done. How astonishing that the catastrophe could only be averted by someone with an in depth knowledge of both irrigation AND deadlifting." You guys don't run these scenarios all the time? Some of you don't even do this some of the time? What do you do when you have to wait for stuff? More importantly, what will you do when you guys are first on the site after a disaster? WILL YOU BE READY?


Anonymous doctorpat said...

It all sounds perfectly normal to me. Maybe some people's brains have an OFF switch?

5:57 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

An off switch? That would be so lovely.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

I actually try hard to not do this--otherwise I can't fall asleep.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dream of frustrating opposing tennis players by varying spin, pace, depth, and trajectory of shots.

The other one I have involves leading a group of smart but diffident men that leads to some revolutionary change in some poor African country. I'm not sure how but involves building schools for children and taking out the bad guys with the help of a dark, moonless night.

These things require talent, but I'm only an economics major.

-- chaos lurker

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard tell that pot is a pretty great off switch.

As for imagining, I'm constantly imagining that I've successfully defended meeting and conference rooms from frontal assault by 1) organizing an fierce-yet-flexible armed resistance and 2) shooting the attackers in the knee with my Glock .40 (which I do not own.) -K.

I also have one where I Effectively Lead A Swift and Capable Logistical Relief Response to the San Diego Fires through the use of county-wide 4C capabilities and a bitchin' laptop.

7:13 PM  
Blogger JRoth said...

Yeah, sorry, Megan, but I gotta join the Empty Brain Brigade. When I go on a long bike ride, I alternate between noticing the scenery and focusing on my (for lack of a better word) performance; when I commuted, I would occasionally think practically about work, but otherwise do those same things. The cliche about thinking through things, or drifting off to some peaceful (or even exciting) place while being Outside just isn't true for me.

Occasionally I'll work through some practical problem - the design of something or other, or work scheduling - during "down" times, but mostly not. My only daydreams of the type you describe are sexual fantasies and, once in awhile, travel (kayaking down to the Gulf of Mexico or something).

Does this mean that when you walk around town you're inward-focused, not observing the buildings or traffic or plants or people?

7:48 PM  
Anonymous A1 said...

Not buying into the whole "staying present" meme, eh?

I have running dialogues with certain people, repeatedly treading over a topic until I have discovered the perfect witty rejoinder and their amazed response.

Often a certain quirk or complaint will pop up, eliciting my favorite unspoken quip, an acknowledgement that I always think that when it comes up, and a weary nod that yes, I know I always think that...

Short of Making It Happen, I'm not sure what's to be done about it.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline Passey said...

All day long and while I sleep.

I can't believe that there are really people out there without a little Walter Mitty in them.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline Passey said...

"More importantly, what will you do when you guys are first on the site after a disaster? WILL YOU BE READY?"

That reminds me, although I don't know the original source, when I was taking a self defense class the instructor told us that someone did a study after the 1989 earthquake to try to figure out why some people were able to act and help and others only sat frozen in shock. They found that the main difference was that the people able to act had spent time before the earthquake visualizing what could happen in a major earthquake and what they would do. So all your daydreaming really IS preparing you for emergencies!

There's also this interesting article about what night dreams are for:

8:37 PM  
Blogger Uneasy Rhetoric said...

I'm always daydreaming about stuff. Non-work stuff even.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Not buying into the whole "staying present" meme, eh?

I want to. It is a constant effort to remind myself and stay present. I try.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:11 PM  
Blogger imogenesis said...

I definitely do that.

I am almost always thinking about something else if I'm walking, sitting on the bus etc. Usually I'm thinking through some (real or imagined) situation or conversation or problem, or planning - either something completely unrelated, or where I'm going, or what I will say when I get there...

I have to really concentrate to be able to watch people/ the environment around me, or to just listen to music, without my mind wandering. In lectures, unless I'm actively taking notes, I easily lose track of what the lecturer is talking about, and go off on a tangent.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline Passey said...

12:49 AM  
Anonymous polly said...

Nope. No frontal lobe activity at all. I really identify with the old guy on the porch in the ancient joke. "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits."

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, it's pretty much constant daydreaming.

What if I owned a baseball team? Who would I trade for? Would I buy all-stars or build up my minor league system? Would I even keep the team in the same city? Maybe Tampa Bay doesn't deserve a major league time--but Mexico City does?

That attractive lady over there? What if that guy in front of her stole her purse, and I tripped him as he ran down the sidewalk, and she wanted to thank me personally after a nice dinner, and well, we end up back at her place...sometimes may daydreams seem to forget I'm a married man...

Also, I suspect my daydreams have more appearances by Spider-Man and Captain America than the average person's.


5:53 AM  
Blogger Capella said...

I know people who claim to only think about one, maybe two things at a time. It is not that I do not believe them, but it is such a curiosity. I can't decide if it is a blessing, because they can distract themselves from unwanted thoughts, or a curse, because how do they ever get all their thinking done?

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Tropicali said...

24 hours a day.
I dream about food (especially Mexican, especially variety). I dream about swimming and coaching and what could have been. I dream about my primary school and all of my planned & unplanned art lessons and how I never want to go back there (but I do, every Monday Wednesday Friday). I dream about Life After Peace Corps (which changes every few days). I dream that I finally figure out how to teach my boyfriend common courtesy. I dream that one day I will learn to stop dreaming (so much) & will find contentment in my present self/life.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

ALI!!! My heart! I miss you SO MUCH! Come back to me and we will be content!

9:15 AM  
Blogger Erik said...

Why does daydreaming stop you from being present? If I'm not specifically focused on something important, I'm most likely day dreaming (usually reliving old conversations with better outcomes, or anticipating new ones, but occasionally something more fanciful), but it doesn't stop me from being aware of my surroundings.

Wait, Does that mean some you actually focus intently on your day dreams?

12:33 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

It is possible to enjoy the scenery and plan a daring adventure at the same time, JRoth.

My daytime daydreams tend to be about knitting projects; at night (before I'm asleep) they're more exciting.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry this is unrelated, but i had to come back here. i just spent way too long in an email battle over politics with a friend who keeps getting more and more conservative the more he earns. YIKES. I needed some fellow hippie comfort.



3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And to be on-topic, I daydream a lot too. It comes in waves, where it'll happen a lot, then a spell where there's less of it.

Sometimes, like you, I save the world. Sometimes (like when I'm out running) I daydream rather morbidly about how long it would take to identify me if I was in an accident, assuming I had forgotten to bring ID with me, based on where I was and what I was wearing, and who knew I was out.

Sometimes I imagine trips I want to take but haven't actually considered planning yet as if they were a reality and I was on them -- where I would be, what I would eat, who I would meet.

I also daydream the end to conversations I'm having (rather than actually listening sometimes) -- like I'll get caught up debating a point the speaker made in my head, and therefore zone out what they continue to actually be saying. I am working on being a more present/better listener though -- and hearing what people say rather than what I'm thinking about what they are saying.

3:06 PM  
Blogger susan said...

I don't know about the constant daydreaming, but I do almost always have a song in my head. If I'm not actively engaged in conversation, there's an internal monologue and soundtrack going on.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm always thinking of what could go wrong. How to avoid it, what to do if it does happen, etc....

Like, did I remember to tie in? Is my harness on right? Does that slope look like it might avalanche?

And, I'm always thinking about a project I'm working on, or a problem I'm trying to solve.

Like, today it was hard to focus on work as I wondered how easily I could swap between MSSQL 2005, and MySql 5.

All day, every day, from the moment I wake up, until I actually manage to fall asleep at night.


3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to do this, especially when listening to music. I stopped, because I felt like I was missing the chance to deeply enjoy my real life. (I first had to believe my real life was enjoyable, too.)

5:09 PM  
Blogger Noumenon said...

After I play a video game for a long time I am always imagining, "I want to steal that car and drive it over that jump," or "I want to sling my web from that light post, that building, and around the corner."

But mostly no. Mostly my mental talk is something like, "I like this TV dinner. People eat so many more TV dinners now than in the 80s. Capitalism is great. I wonder if putting green beans and cranberries in a TV dinner is a technological breakthrough or just market segmentation? I read an article about cranberry technology, but it was mostly about how you could infuse a cranberry with other fruit flavors..." I'm a nonfiction kind of person.

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to daydream in narratives.
I don't have time anymore - small children take you over body, mind, and soul. Now if I have free moments or am walking my brain either flows with random thoughts or starts figuring out details to something that needs to get done.

JP - I agree planning how you'd handle emergencies helps you jump into action when it strikes.


9:26 AM  
Blogger Marcus said...

Irrigation and deadlifting is a pretty plausible combo to be helpful in an emergency. Especially in Sacramento. You'd forecast the location of the levee break and haul all the sandbags there.

I grant myself all kinds of purely hypothetical skills when I daydream. I figure it's daydreaming, why not. Same rules go for sexual fantasies.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Dizzy said...

I've finally figured out that my daydreaming is directly connected to my constant clumsiness. If I can make myself think about ONLY one thing at a time... so many fewer skinned shins and slammed fingers. But I do still daydream a lot when seated. It's bad because I will practice facial expressions for the daydream I'm working on, and that looks weird in public.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

-dithers! I was just thinking that I hadn't seen you here in a while and wondering how you were. Happy, I hope.

9:28 PM  
Blogger A Mom in Maine said...

I do what A1 does. But often in my daydreams I am arguing salient and brilliant points with my father and finally changing his Heritage/American Enterprise ideologies. I guess I have daddy issues...

As a first time visitor, I must say, I like your blog very much.

5:20 AM  

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