While driving to Eau Claire this morning I was excited to start an audiobook I’d just picked up. As soon as I started driving down my street and went through the mental checklist of my upcoming day. In short order I realized that there was more I needed to think through on a specific challenge today. For half a second I sat paralyzed, torn between my desire to start my new book (a biography of Red Cloud) and focusing energy and thought on a time sensitive project. That half second passed and I left the radio off.
For the entire distance I drove in silence. No background noise, no music, just the sound of the road under my tires. I watched my environment only as much as necessary to drive safely. My mind was focused on the task at hand. After a while of mentally manipulating the scenario I happened upon an almost perfect solution. The next several minutes were then spent on working through the solution and role playing it in my mind.
After feeling confident in my response I then moved on to another topic in the same methodical way, and then on to another. When I felt my thoughts starting to drift a little I caught myself as if my car had hit the rumble strips. In no time I shook the other line of thoughts from my head and went back to the task at hand.
By the time my 90 minutes of driving were up I’d worked through more than I thought I’d be able to in a day, let alone such a short period of time. What really caught my attention was the space my mind had to breathe with a combination of solitude and focus. It felt amazing!
It took quite a bit of energy to stay focused like that, but everything in life takes practice. I’ll certainly continue to focus on growing this practice to help my brain attain the space it needs for optimal performance.