My Wandering Mind

Photo by Barbara Ellis

Have you ever let your mind wander? Just let it loose and then enjoy the trip? And yes, it really is a trip. A trip away from reality and into a dream world. I used to do this a lot when I was young and now, thanks to this COVID-19 year we are trudging through, I am once again enjoying this childhood pastime.

The main difference between now and then is, that now, I do less imagining and draw more on actual memories.

Either way, mind wonderings in reality or in imagination fill empty hours and are much more entertaining than television.

When I was in school, my mind would wander to faraway places, especially during my algebra classes when I really had no idea what was going on. The rectangles the teacher drew on the blackboard somehow turned into snow-capped mountain tops. I saw myself skiing down that mountainside with fresh powder snow flying through the air while my skis made perfect parallel lines in the snow. In reality, when I had skied, I was pathetic and could barely come down a gentle hill without falling.

On a really cold Alberta day, it is great to imagine being off somewhere hot with the sand and sea just out the front door. Actually, I have a memory filed away in the recesses of my mind that I can recall on just such a day.

 It happened a long time ago on a wonderful trip to Western Australia. I had taken a tour to Shark Bay and decided to go for a short cruise on a catamaran.

Naturally, there were other people along for the ride, but that did not diminish my pleasure. We floated on an undulating sea with a hot sun beaming down on us and a gentle breeze filling the sails. I sat at the bow and watched as a pod of dolphins skimmed the surface and kept us company.

They were obviously having fun as they jumped and dived and so close to me that I wanted to reach out and touch one.

The reverse is also true: when the sun is beating down and one can fry an egg on the sidewalk, it is wonderful to think of those breathtaking Swiss Alps with waterfalls cascading down the mountain slopes.

My mind returns to memories of picnics up there where the wildflowers colour the valleys. I remember lying on my back with my father next to me as we invented imaginary animals in the clouds floating above us.

There is nothing more beautiful than puffy white clouds floating beneath a deep blue sky. Sometimes they are larger than a city and higher than most mountains. I have imagined myself flying through those bubbling white valleys, diving down deep and then soaring way up high.

My body would be like Superman’s not encumbered by any sort of mechanical appliance, just me and my body dipping and diving and surfing an ocean of foam.

In my old age, my mind often returns to remembering friends and family members I have lost. I can see myself at my parents’ cottage in Pennsylvania where I first fell in love with birds. There were many bird feeders in the yard, but the main one stood right in front of the porch. Here we were treated by daily visits from Cardinals, Blue Jays, Cat Birds and even a sparrow or two.

At the side of the cottage, my father had erected Purple Martin houses. He started with one house, but eventually ended up with five three-story houses sitting high up on their poles. He had to keep adding houses because these swallows returned every year along with their “children,” so to speak.

I can see the swallows soaring high above and then diving down to catch the insects. They caught mostly mosquitoes which certainly added to the enjoyment of our outdoor times.

When feeding time was over, we would walk down to the lake to watch the sun paint the sky and the waters in crimson and gold. Our wonderful dog would enjoy her last dip of the day then come near us and give herself a vigorous shake, showering us at the same time. It was a sort of ritual, she was always reprimanded, but every day we just stood there and let her sprinkle us. Subconsciously, I think, we enjoyed the ritual.

A treasured memory is being with my sister at Petra, that ancient city of stone. We stood staring at the monument known as the treasury, perfectly carved out of a sheer rock face millennia ago.

It was one of those seldom experienced magical moments when one is standing in a place only dreamt of visiting, and the dream becoming a reality. I remember her putting her arm around my shoulders and saying, “how beautiful.”

“Yes”, I agreed as I slipped my arm around her waist. It was beautiful, and it still is. This is a memory I treasure and often relive.

Many of my loved ones are gone now, but how wonderful it is to revisit them in my mind. To see them, spend time with them, and enjoy them.