In Praise of Moodling Time
Hurry by Marie Howe
We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store
and the gas station and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.
Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?
Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,
Honey I’m sorry I keep saying Hurry–
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.
And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.
In Praise of Wasting Time
I got enthusiastic about this topic after a friend shared a book she was reading: In Praise of Wasting Time by Alan Lightman, an MIT prof who is both a physicist and a novelist. Since I was creating themes for my Wellspring Webinars I thought this might be worth exploring. Besides, it took me back to my 40th Birthday when I gave each one of my birthday dinner friends a copy of Brenda Ueland’s book If You want to Write: A book about Art, Independence and Spirit
Brenda wrote this book in the 1930’s and it was where I learned about the value of moodling. She was the ultimate encourager that everyone is Talented, Original and Has Something Important to Say. (writing is her metaphor and for writers this book is always on the best writing guides list, but as she says it applies to any art form or creative act that interests you.)
And how do we find our gifts, our inspiration, our muses and so forth? Through moodling, of course. Sure you can turn up at the work bench everyday using will power and critiques of yourself but she is a believer that inspiration for creativity and living well comes through moodling. Moodling is slow, quiet time. Doing nothing important, by the world’s standards, at all. Simply day dreaming at your work bench or spending an hour watching the leaves flutter in the wind.
One of her moodling practices was taking a solitary 5-6 mile walk everyday. Another was listening, really listening to favourite music and so forth. She was insistent that this was part of the plan to get better at whatever you do, in the same way that she was also insistent that if you want to write that you do so everyday.
Illness gives us a chance to experience our life in a different way. We can, if we choose, re-examine all the things we took for granted and possibly decide to try new things, or do old things in a different way. New ways of eating, moving our body, how we connect with others, work, hobbies, every aspect of our life is suddenly under a wide angle microscope. We get forced downtime which can be hard to deal with at first, yet, wise people in the world, from the oldest traditions, to our contemporaries in science, business, medicine and the arts all speak of the need for quiet and reflective time.
It is important to build quiet moodling time directly into our calendars. You have no idea how hard this is for me. Not because I don’t want to and not because of lack of knowledge of its importance, but more from “if there is time left over” I will…and there never seems to be time left over.
So I am on my own mission to resurrect my moodling time. For years I chose Sunday – the entire day- for the sole purpose of unstructured time. I got to read, bike, photograph, take long walks, write, visit with a friend, read poetry, and play the piano, daydream, and so on. Even though I am no longer the example, I have the longing and motivation to keep trying.
Not surprisingly, my favourite yoga teacher and my meditation teacher emphasize the gentle art of yoga and meditation. Both of them recently reminded their participants not to be aggressive or push too hard but to be gentle and allow our emotional state to relax so we can benefit from the practice rather than pushing for results. And never ever to be chasing and comparing ourselves to others, but just working gently with what we have and who we are.
Back to Alan Lightman, our MIT physicist.
He reminds us that focusing on the urgency of making every moment count has affected all of our lives, including crammed schedules, speed of appointments, jobs, getting and spending. (I will add ill health to that list) His experience and research demonstrates that we all need activities for fun and amusement. “Time to let the mind rest and daydream…mental downtime is having the space and freedom to wander about the vast hallways of memory and contemplate who we are. Downtime is when we can ponder our past and imagine our future. Downtime is when we can repair ourselves.”
He ultimately discovered, like many great inventors, scientists and sages, “the need for unscheduled time, the need for an inner life, the need for space without time.” Wasting time engaged in self reflection, day dreaming, doodling, gazing at the ocean are all variations of moodling and it is not uselessness. “It may be the most important occupation of our minds,”according to Lightman.
1:) We are all different. I have no idea what is best for you. What I do know is when I make quiet time for myself and create spaces in my busyness I do better, feel better, and ultimately get more satisfaction and contentment in daily life.
2:) Thank you once again for all your encouraging words that you kindly send to me. You, dear readers, have held the course with me for several weeks. A deep bow to you all.
3:) I hope you enjoy these beautiful late summer and early fall days. This is my favourite time of all. Let’s not miss it. Warmly, Trudy
Thank you Trudy for this lovely post. Moodling is so important and so hard to do. Thank you for the inspiration (I am also inspired by the article’s photo model – hope she still moodles too!)
She still moodle’s. Perhaps a little more than her parents like. ha ha Thank you for reading my blog.
I love to moodle… some breath work, some strolling in the mountains and even spending a day making cards. Ahhhhh to “moodle’…and what a great name is that!!!
Thanks for the great blog once again dear Trudy.
Sending you love and real hugs!
Ah. Happy to hear that you like the name and you certainly know what it means. Thank you for taking the time to send a note.
Thanks Trudy for your thought provoking and heart-expanding words. I am on a path to moodle. I needed that. 🙂
Good luck Patti. It’s harder than you think but worth The effort to set some new habits. Wish me luck and I you.
I appreciate that you say ‘it is important to build moodling time into our calendars’ because it is true, there is never time left over. It is often the most relaxing and creative time when I allow it to just be. Marie’s poem is a good reminder to ask myself where am I hurrying to and to slow down. thanks for this Trudy, as always, love Jan
Thank you Jan. I think I noticed Marie Howe will be at the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival in October. (Online this year)I appreciate you sending a note.
Thank you, Trudy, not only for your words of encouragement, but also for sharing the images which are beautiful, thoughtful, and inspiring; it’s as if each photo might be a writing prompt. Also, thank you for continuing to share your energy with us even as you grieve – it is a sacrifice and gift which I truly appreciate.