Monday, October 6, 2014

64. Daydreaming

This is going to be a difficult post for me to write, because my mind is now more than a year removed from hiker mind. A hiker mind has no to-do lists, has no bills to pay, has hardly any gossip. A hiker mind, therefore, can drift like a car with no brakes across the intersection of imagination. 

While hiking, I would spend hours, hours, inventing entire fantasy worlds with fully realized characters and internally consistent physics. These worlds would exist for only an hour, or a day, or longer, and I could revisit them whenever I chose. One particular invented world was so fully developed that I was able to discuss it for two full hours over brunch with Dumptruck, Whistle and my dad, a few days after finishing the trail. I have notes from this brainstorming session still folded in the front pocket of my old cordorouy jansport backpack that I use for day trips.

Daydreaming could also take me to ideas for the future. Hiking actually allowed my mind to be clear enough to envision future goals that were not only motivated by escapism from my current reality. In other words, I think a lot of times we can get disenchanted with our current lot in life, and will therefore start picturing ourselves in the future, doing something more fun. But hiking was like a stasis, a way for my mind to be able to be perfectly happy with what it was currently doing, while simultaneously looking forward to new adventures. Adventures in buying a tiny house, for instance.

I remember learning about free association writing when I was a teenager, and thinking it was the coolest thing ever because it allowed me to understand that brains and language are awesome, literally. They cause me to be full of awe. The free mind of a hiker is like free association writing, all the time, without the time pressure.

If you've never had a language arts teacher full of whimsy, it's possible you may never have done a free association writing piece. 

How it is done:
1. Get a piece of paper and a pencil
2. Set a timer for one or two minutes
3. Start the timer
4. Write whatever comes to your mind, as fast as you can, without self-editing at all
5. Read, and be fascinated and/or confused and/or disturbed by the results
6. Call yourself a poet

The idea of the timer is that it allows you to pressure your mind into freedom from all other responsibilites, for only two minutes. Your brain will rescind control because it knows it is only temporary. Writing as fast as possible keeps your brain from editing itself, which allows full expulsion of everything in your brain, both beautiful and icky. People like you and me, with jobs and responsibilities, have a hard time accessing that part of ourselves without doing an exercise like free association. In the woods, the long distance hiker's mind does this on its own at a leisurely pace.

Because I have reminded myself of free association writing, I have decided I will do one for you.

2 minutes on the clock (Dumptruck can verify this), aaand, GO.


Clever Girl

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