So, Kathleen-who-irons-napkins has been having her brain waves tested. Not because she irons napkins (although, you would think…) but because she gets migraines. To improve said brain waves, she's been working on these relaxation exercises. Things like imagining you're floating in the night sky--with infinite space all around you… She tells me she never thinks about these things otherwise, which makes sense. Kathleen has a brain that only seems to think about whatever it's supposed to. By contrast, I end up floating in space all the time. Or briefly imagining I am lying on the sand at the bottom of the ocean, looking up and watching the sun ripple through the waves above me. Or standing in a given place and for a moment imagining all of the things that have happened to all of the people who have stood in that space before me. I have worked hard to tame these impulses. I've learned they're a good way to fail a math test or burn supper. But they won't be completely tamed. And I've learned that, in small doses, these moments serve some subtle purpose. They realign me. They pull me out of myself--and add perspective. Kind of like when you've been sitting at a computer for a long time and you take a moment to stand and stretch all your muscles and joints before returning to productive work. Some people do this all the time, as part of an intentional spiritual practice--prayers or meditations that weave into the day. It seems to me that something is valuable about these moments of gentle stretching of the spirit. Kind of like the stretching of the body that used to be woven into the daily tasks of life like fetching water and carrying wood--tasks which our bodies now miss so desperately. We're "supposed" to set aside time for spiritual practice, of course. And for physical exercise. That works well for some people. For others, maybe there's something in the spontaneous stretching of soul or body--the quick romp of tag, or the bike commute woven into your day. Or the moment of distractibility that you embrace rather than suppress. Maybe there's something valuable about pausing to look at an oak tree on a busy street and wonder about all of the conversations that have floated past it in the many years that it has stood there. Maybe there's something good in taking a moment to think about how many years it has stood, inhaling the carbon dioxide of so many exhaled conversations--and is about to take the air from your lungs, too, into it's roots and branches. Sometimes, it's hard to tell the difference between what distracts you from life, and what is life.