Punching Dummies in the Face, or, When the Mind Wanders

Often, we’re faced with doing things we don’t want to do. Even as adults, we have to clean our rooms, do the dishes, and sort through heaps of laundry. We may be faced with a lot of temptation, too–what’s better than lying in a bed covered in nice clean, warm sheets or clicking over to Facebook while doing either homework or work-work? Then, there’s the call to write, to open Google docs and just go for it, knowing that what you’re doing is productive, just in a different way, right?

Not a good excuse for your boss or for your teacher when you turn in work you know is shoddy.

Then, there’s the opposite: we’ve got clean desks and we’re ready to write, but distraction nags us. What could I be watching on TV? Answer: the same re-runs of Seinfeld you’ve seen at least 500 times before. What could I be doing? Answer: laundry. No, doing? I could be active instead of just sitting here! Then, our minds wander to Spinning, to boxing, to running, biking, or yoga. We want to move!

You know what? That might not be a bad thing.

When we exercise, wonderful endorphins are released, and these make us feel happy and relaxed. One part of the brain focuses on the activity, leaving another part of the brain free to wander. Rhythm and safety, such as when running on the treadmill at the gym, allows us to open our minds to our ideas.

This is also an opportunity to observe what’s around you: people, if you’re in the gym. Watch their mannerisms and interactions. Watch dogs and squirrels and people’s backyards if you’re on a trail. When boxing or performing other, more intricate sports, focus on the hits you’re throwing but also observe your body’s energy and the camaraderie you feel with others as you all sweat together. Believe it or not, with the concentration and sense of community and focus on breathing, boxing is a lot like yoga.

I could write about boxing forever, and I often do lose hours writing about it. As soon as I’m done with my activity, I jump in the shower and then face the computer. I tackle it as I might with a left-hook-straight-right on a bag.

No, I do not do this every time I box, though I know I should. Routine is so important to finding security and focus in writing. No one is perfect, of course, and the mind will always want to wander, but with practice, you should be able to hone-in on your goal, just the way one might focus on a candle’s flame, real or imagined, during meditation.

In the end, maybe a little wandering isn’t so bad, as long as it’s active wandering: observing, being, and learning.

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About Em-dash Lady

Em-dash Lady enjoys creative writing most of all, but her interests include art forms from music to writing to visual art to indie films and so forth. She's especially interested in how the art forms influence each other and blend together. She's a creative writing teacher and writer who mostly writes memoir and poetry about her favorite activity, watching TV. I would say I'm kidding, but I'm not. Naps are also her favorite. Too many favorites to count! Enjoy following Em-dash Lady as she figures out how she fits in the ever-evolving world of art.
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