I spent a whole summer zoning out. That’s what it felt like at the time anyway. I was working two jobs and living in a trailer with an outhouse and no running water in Dawson City, Yukon. Anytime I spent at my little place, I would put music on and just sit and stare at the little creek that trickled by. I remember thinking that I “should” have been journaling, or writing letters, or something – anything – more productive or creative. But I couldn’t. All I could do was sit and stare, mind mostly empty of thought.
I realize now that it was a combination of self-preservation and meditation. My conscious mind couldn’t hold sway over what my soul needed. In order to get through the days of tourists and the nights of drunks I needed to sit in Nature and simply Be.
I fell in love and the zoning out vanished. So did every last vestige of mindfulness for a long time. I remember that summer with fondness and something a little like longing.
The phrase “zoning out” has always had a negative connotation to me. As though it’s lazy, mindless, unproductive. It brings to mind the way I used to spend hours in front of the television, watching Law & Order reruns. Lately though, when I find myself dancing in a wild thought stream while nursing my daughter, realizing I just missed the last 20 miles of road or forgetting if I’ve already conditioned my hair, I forgive myself, remember that summer and trust that sometimes, it’s okay to unconsciously let go. The space between thoughts is whatever we make it. Good or bad, we get to decide.