I believe in the importance of spacing out. To space out, for those who don’t know, is to simply daydream or meditate or just stare off into space for a while. It’s not as casual as it sounds – it is an almost therapeutic method of sorting out one’s thoughts and feelings every day. I have been spacing out my entire life largely without realizing how good it was for me. Indeed, some of my most profound moments come to me when I am daydreaming, whether it’s about a movie I saw or a personal fantasy of mine or a conversation that I wished that I had had with someone. It is a time to go through my thoughts and get to know myself better without the frenzy of the world pushing and pulling on me from every direction.
I’ve gone through my life largely misunderstood when it comes to spacing out. As a child, I spent nearly all my time daydreaming, something that I only realized was strange when I was forced to interact with the world. When I spaced out around other people, my friends and classmates thought I was weird. When I spaced out in school, my frustrated teachers thought I had ADD. When I spaced out at home, my poor, concerned parents thought that I was sad, that I was strange, that I didn’t have enough to do with my life. I, too, began to believe these things, which turned spacing out into a guilty, self-indulgent pleasure that I felt I had to hide away and be ashamed of. Indeed, I went ignorant of the wonderful qualities of daydreaming until my high school Creative Writing teacher, Mr. Collyer, helped me to appreciate them.
Mr. Collyer was a short, bald, endlessly enthusiastic man who liked to listen to recited poetry on his knees on the floor with his head in his hands and take his students for long outdoor hikes during regular class periods. One day during class he told us a story which explained his own enthusiasm for spacing out. When he had been in high school himself, he had been a driven, straight-A student who never wasted any time, spending every minute working or exercising or studying. Once when he was on the train with his laid-back, slacker younger brother, he realized, to his great frustration, that he had forgotten a textbook he had intended on studying while traveling. His brother did not seem to understand the problem. “What are you talking about, a waste of time? Just do nothing. It’s good for the soul.” he replied.
It was these words that opened up an entirely new perspective for both his older brother and for me. Spacing out, I realized, is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a wonderful, reflective time to allow my brain to roam where it will without any control, restraints or censorship. It is an activity that has developed both my creativity and my imagination, two of the most invaluable elements of a person’s life. I no longer find it strange that I space out, and those around me, including my friends and family, have accepted it as part of who I am. I invite everyone to do it with me; to relax and stop what you are doing and just space out. It’s good for the soul.
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