I’ve always thought that I had a major problem with concentration – or lack of it. It started in school which I would zone out during history or science, and lose myself in daydreams about endless what-if options, or whichever fantasy was top of my list that day.
Woe betide me of course if the teacher noted my blank expression and asked me a question. How to be shown up and humiliated before a class full of peers. I soon had a reputation and it wasn’t for my brilliance.
Then of course there are those team meetings at work. Over an hour or so, the team discusses goal definition, project progress, moments of brilliance and safety issues. It’s scintillating stuff. Where is my mind? Not on the meeting, that’s for sure.
I’m doing a Walter Mitty with my head in the clouds, or dreaming of the next lotto win that will take me away from all this – or would if only I had bought a ticket. I then have to ad-lib quickly when I’m called upon to contribute to the discussion. It’s not easy to sound as if you know what you are talking about when you don’t, and I suspect that not many are fooled.
According to Malia Mason of the Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, daydreaming is a form of mental multi-tasking, when the brain solves problems, contemplates and future and engages in cerebral brain-storming. It seems that the brain is engaged in a lot of hard and potentially productive work.
So, to those who have previously thought that I was half asleep, not engaged, or simply away with the fairies, I was in fact not just involved in serious contemplation; I had embarked on a meditative journey of complex resolution.