You know the phrase: “I can’t hear myself think”.
Or is it just me? I know I’m not the only person who is excessively busy. But lately I feel like I just haven’t had the time to be alone inside my head.
So, for the last two weeks I’ve been doing my own little experiment: I’ve driven in silence. No talk radio. No books on tape (actually, that would be on CD). No chatting or long phone conversations. No music. Drastic times call for drastic measures.
Now, keep in mind that I live in the Chicago suburbs, so most days I drive 50 miles easily – I spend a lot of time behind the wheel. And multi-tasking while driving is not only a bad habit, it’s widely encouraged in this country. Cars now have internet connections on the screens for the drivers! How is this better than texting while driving? (Safety will be another post)
Typically I’m always surrounded by sounds. TV on at home, my son’s “music”, (showing my age), the dog, phone, radio, cars, people talking at Starbucks. Just a lot of noise – everywhere.
Purely by accident, I started this little experiment. I was in the car driving my son to wrestling practice and I had to turn off my radio so I could hear his answer to a question I asked. A pretty big feat with a teenage boy! When he got out of the car, I just forgot to turn my radio back on. And you know what happened? The world was still there when I got home! I hadn’t missed a thing. And, I felt calm. That was when I realized that I hadn’t been alone with my thoughts in ages.
So, I challenged myself to drive in silence for the next week.
You know how you always have the most creative ideas when you’re in the shower? Turns out that driving in silence has the same effect on me. I let my mind wander. I think crazy outside the box ideas. I rehash conversations – and come up with the snappy comeback I wish I had thought of in the moment. I talk to myself too, but I don’t think that violates the “silence” pledge. Same theory as that darned tree that falls in the woods – if no one hears me, I’m not talking.
I know it sounds simplistic, but I do feel more relaxed when I reach my destination. And, contrary to my fears, being alone with my thoughts isn’t scary. In fact, I think I have some pretty good ideas in my head. Ideas that have just been waiting for the right time to jump out when no one else was talking.
It’s been very enlightening to have this quiet time. I’ve allowed my mind to daydream and problem solve. Alone in the car with my thoughts, I created 2 entire workshops while driving back and forth from appointments. I’ve “written” blogs. I created a new recipe for tilapia that I’m making for Thanksgiving. I put together a great professional outfit for a networking event. I developed a working theory for my chocolate addiction. I re-designed my workshop flyers. And currently I’m solving the global warming crisis.
So, I’ve decided to extend my quiet time in the car for another week. Who knows what I might think of, what world problems I might solve, what songs I might write, what clever quips I might add, what amazing workshops I might create.
But I will put the radio back on after Thanksgiving. After all, it’s Christmas music on 93.9 and I love to hear Bob Seger singing “Little Drummer Boy”.