What are you supposed to think about when you’re walking to work or taking the tram to the supermarket? The day ahead? The shopping list you left on the kitchen table? The pretty autumn colours as the leaves fall from the trees? I don’t suppose it really matters. Those mundane times are a good time to let your mind wander. To be mindful or mindless, depending on your mood.
Lately, however, I’ve become very aware of how much I rehearse in these moments. How much time I spend pre-living moments. No, you didn’t read that wrong. Not re-living moments, pre-living them. Practicing, visualising, improving and doing again. I suppose it’s normal before a big day – a job interview, significant meeting or difficult conversation for example. In such cases thinking it through makes good sense. But there are times when I am pretty sure it doesn’t.
Pre-writing E-mails, pre-walking different routes, pre-talking through weather conversations, are all examples, I am sure, of wasted thinking time. I do it a lot. Spend precious moments, when the sun is rising trying to make sure the day goes to plan, doing the dress rehearsal in my mind. Every day. And do you know why I know it’s a waste of time? Because I spend every journey home doing the re-living part, collating all the bits that went wrong and giving myself a mental kicking. Should have learnt your lines, H. Should have written better stage directions.
I’m not against reflection and preparation. But all the world isn’t a stage, and I am not a just a player in it. Or, it’s time to quit pretending and get on with it.