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Little Spouse On The Prairie: Hearing Myself Think

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If someone is yelling, singing, or conversing with me while I’m making a list, that distraction causes . . . glitches.

Listeners, you already know that I have a bit of a time quieting my mind. I race from one topic to another, trying to quickly jot things down before I forget. I have a list app on my phone, I carry a small notepad, and I’ve been known to write on my own skin.

If someone is yelling, singing, or conversing with me while I’m making a list, that distraction causes . . . glitches. I’ve opened up my little notepad to find the following to-do list: “Get milk, iron slacks, don’t eat that – it will make you sick, buy Joel’s birthday gift, and scratch my back.”

It’s gotten so bad; I don’t even know that I’m eating anymore. I look at my plate and I’m like, “Hey, who ate my mac and cheese?” My family stares with worried expressions, and then I realize, I’m the guilty party.

Apparently, between trips to the kitchen to fetch ketchup and salt, I managed to devour 2,000 calories worth of pasta. Not great on the old diet; I mean, if I didn’t even taste the first serving, I am obligated to get seconds so I can actually enjoy my favorite food.

To give myself a bit of credit, my husband does occasionally swipe something off my plate when I am not looking, so I’m not sure whether I should seek treatment for early onset of dementia or whether I should look into marriage counseling. Joel assures me there’s a country song by Charlie Pride called “Burgers and Fries and Cherry Pies” that could cover us if we decide to seek professional help.

I got to thinking that maybe the reason my mind won’t settle down is that I’m overstimulated. Of the five (based on recent developments in my vision, really four and a half) senses, my hearing is the one that is most overtaxed. I literally can’t hear myself think around here.

My family is a normal, noisy, modern family. Add to that my middle son’s recent obsession with the saxophone and I live in a constant din. If he’s not playing his alto sax, he’s playing the used tenor sax he saved up for this summer. And if he’s not playing the tenor, he’s playing the baritone he recently borrowed. Of course, if none of the three saxes are readily available, he listens to sax players online. He also shops online for saxes and quizzes me about which sax I think he should buy.

So, I’ve decided I need to find my Zen. I recently checked out a book – audio version of course - about the positive benefits of quiet contemplation. Though I know I can’t possibly adopt each aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path, I theorize that even trying to settle my mind for a short time each day will help. I need to “sit, and know I am sitting.”

This book suggests setting a reminder on my cell phone, and even if I can just relax and focus for two minutes without my mind wandering, I will benefit. I can move on to the three-week silent retreat after mastering this. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, you know.

I will dutifully set my cell phone to ding at the appointed times for two minutes of quiet. I worry I won’t be able to maintain focus for even that long, and I will have to add Zen to the list of things at which I’ve failed. I’ve heard that the harder one tries to achieve Zen, the longer it takes. My husband says I should be more concerned that the reason I can’t hear myself think is that there’s not much to hear. I’ll get back with you as to how it goes. It may be a while.

If this sketch seems more disorganized than my usual offering, it’s most likely because I have been interrupted seven times while I tried to compose my thoughts. I’ve listened to three new pieces on the sax, received two texts asking where shoes and kneepads might be located, wiped a bottom (not mine), and purchased an item from a school fundraiser. Judging from this empty bag next to me, I’ve also consumed, let’s see, 1800 calories worth of potato chips.