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Mindering

Mindering
Paul Klee: Red Balloon [Roter Ballon] (1922)
"I've become my own DJ and audience."

When I'm painting, I can listen to an audio book, but painting's only a tiny portion of any painting project. Much more time goes to prepping, which tends to be noisy work, too noisy to allow listening to any audio input. Of course I could just finally cave in and buy a noise cancelling headset as I've threatened for years, but I'm learning to appreciate the selective availability of external entertainment and, much more importantly, I seem to be gaining a fresh appreciation for where my mind goes when denied distraction. I'll call that state Mindering. My mind wanders to the most curious places. A tune might dominate for a while, one selected from an impressive list, no justification given. Chattanooga Choo Choo accompanied me through two full Pop-Up Paint Shoppe days this week. I compose impressive essays while sanding door fronts. I relive scenes from my past and pre-live a few from my future. I engage in lengthy internal dialogues. My mind never stops chattering.

Those who engage in relatively menial activities seem to have the greatest opportunity to enjoy the joys of Mindering.
Someone immersed in thought work might find their mindful chatter overridden by their foreground focus. Those laboring at team work might find themselves chattering with others rather than with themselves. The lone laborer, the one weeding or mowing or, as in my case recently, repeatedly prepping door fronts for painting, we hold the great blank canvas and opportunity to paint something on it. The task might serve as a prompt for an internal improvisation session. Yesterday, for instance, I caught myself pretending to be a fortune teller, reading my future in the vibrating grains from sanding jiggling across a window pane I was prepping for painting. The notion seemed eminently plausible, as all internal fantasies tend to be until externalized with explanation. One beauty of Mindering comes from the absolute privacy of it. Nobody but me ever needs to know what's been going on in there. Everything seems to make perfect sense to me, too. I rarely find myself confused as i often do when trying to comprehend some external entertainment. Audio books and podcasts often get stuck or lose continuity, forcing me to open the ruling app and intervene. That never happens when I'm Mindering.

I expect that one day we might devise a way to monitor others' Minderings. These eavesdroppings could not possibly do anyone any good. They might even prompt a person to start questioning their own internal conversation, to start comparing their's to others'. No good could possibly come from any of that. These performances should be private and unexpected. They might carry important messages via parable or metaphor. They might perform an important function unrelated to their literal interpretation. The stories, the monologues, the songs might impart something critically important. Our current social crises might be a direct result of so many blocking their innate onboard self-entertainment system with podcasts, audio books, and blathering talk radio hosts. It might be that we all need the head space to engage in apparently mindless Mindering or we fall ill with distraction-borne conditions. Perhaps depression or Republicanism results from failing to hear our own stories spoken to us in our own still, small voices.

If so, I'm in excellent condition after two full months of Mindering. Part of my workdays I spend interacting with Kurt Our Painter, whom I suspect maintains a much richer internal dialogue life than I can imagine given that he's been painting for fifty years or more. I'm a rank amateur. My day job involves much considering and always has, the sort of focus that belies the intrusion of true distraction. I cannot listen to the radio and do my work. I can't usually engage in Mindering while working, either, except this Grand Refurbishing work's different. It permits and almost insists upon me maintaining relatively vast spaces within which to engage in these internal conversations. I sense that I've come to know myself much better as a result of refinishing so many door fronts, that I might have even become a better person, more grounded, more focused, more satisfied with myself. So much seems to draw attention outward these days. Jump in the car and turn on the radio. Heck, our Schooner turns on the radio for me whether I want it to or not. I have to act to turn it off if I want the privacy of my own thoughts instead of 40s jukebox music. I love the old swing tunes but I find that I can fairly accurately recreate them for myself by Mindering when I need one, and that performance comes with apparent additional benefits. I've become my own DJ and audience.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved







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