I have these moments — more and more all the time — when the most fundamental of daily details seem elude me squarely in the middle of their occurrences. Or when I errantly lose sight of something while I’m actively thinking about it. Or talking about it.
Quite frequently, it happens in plain view of others.
Like when, a few weeks ago, I was loading my backpack + my coffee cup + my lunchbox into my car to head to the office, with the intention of stopping at the post office on the way in to drop off a package for my wife. As I taxied out of my garage, the couple across the street ran down their driveway, all worried faces and hands waving wildly in front of them, motioning me not just to stop, but to STOP!STOP!STOP! My first thought was that something of theirs must be on fire – their couch, maybe, or a favorite pet – and they needed my help putting out the flames.
Morning isn’t my most logical thought time.
So I pulled over to the curb and rolled down my window. The wife leaned in and said kindly, “There’s something on top of your car,” as she handed me the post office-bound box. It was no small object, as a one foot by one foot cube, and I’d had it in my hands about twelve seconds before.
Happens to the best of us, I like to think.
I thanked her and laughed, because that’s what I do when I’m stupid and forgetful.
Two days later I was headed down the road to work again, rocking out to whatever music is allowed to interrupt the commercials on morning radio these days. I noticed the car beside me was driving exactly my speed, with a driver who was mouthing and motioning as she drove. “Wow,” I thought. “She must be jamming to Macklemore, too.” I looked over to salute my compatriot in Drive Time Rocking Out with a “hell yes!” fist pump. Then I noticed that she was pointing to the roof of my car.
Not Macklemore, then.
So I pulled into the turn lane, hopped out and found my lunchbox topside, surfing along at forty miles an hour. Thanks to the weight of a few hefty apples, it hadn’t slid off yet. I laughed that time, too. It made for hilarious tale-telling afterward. But damn.
It happened twice.
In one week.
I hear people call these “senior moments”. But I’m not senior, as far as I can tell. I like to think of myself as a just-finishing sophmore or a newly-entering junior, if anything.
Not fully in mid-life. More like at slightly post-youth.
Whatever stage it happens to be, it would be too easy for me to write this off as the lapsing memory mechanism of an aging brain. Any of us could do something like this at any age, really – twice in the same week, even.
Or maybe that type of frequency is more of a “me” thing.
At any rate, all of this on-top-of-the-car stuff-leaving has me pondering the idea of befuddlement.
I know I’m not addle-brained…not yet, anyway. I work a full forty hour + week analyzing enormous sets of data, utilizing no fewer than five different systems with entirely unique interfaces that I’ve learned on the fly. I’m responsible for preparing myriad reports and tracking minute pieces of information into the rabbit hole to figure out their underlying issues and recommend solutions. I also consult with others who need my assistance, shifting my attention from me to them at a moment’s notice for however long it takes before returning to my own work, and training several others as needed. It all gets taken care of. And the thoughts that wedge themselves between are focused how my kids are making out at school and how my wife is doing in her daily endeavors and the yard work I keep putting off in favor of yard work avoidance. And stuffed between those are thoughts about the novel I’m currently writing, and the other novel I’m gearing up to revise, and the other-other novels I’m busily planning. And marketing ideas for all of these novels.
And a manuscript I’ve offered to read for a friend.
And the works I’m editing for other authors.
And contributions to the other websites I’m part of.
And this blog post.
I’m realizing more and more that befuddlement isn’t a feature of people whose minds have begun to empty.
It’s a feature of people whose minds are too full, too busy and too consumed with constant and continuous active thought.
Barring intensive meditation – which sort of negates the whole concept of meditation and probably isn’t even doable, now that I read it in print – I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to just keep laughing it off until the projects slow down a bit. As long as it doesn’t put anyone in harm’s way (mostly) or signify a greater physiological issue (so far) then it’s certainly something I can dismiss as the whimsical shortcomings of a busy thought-life. Because really, how am I supposed to find brain space to remember all the stuff I put on top of my car?
I have kids, a wife, a day job, a vampire and a couple of rock stars who need my attention. Plus: somebody’s pet might be on fire.
Those are way more important things to think about.
I can always buy another lunchbox.