When was the last time you just let your mind wander? When was the last time you took the time to wander around while driving, just to see a part of the city you never saw before? Sometimes it pays to wander. My wife and I normally take an annual road trip to Texas to see our daughter and grandkids. We could fly and be there in a good part of a day but, there is just something about wandering across the country over 1400 miles that relaxes me. As new scenery rolls by outside the car window, new possibilities are birthed in my mind. It’s not uncommon for us to take a different route on the way home then we did on the way down. We try to stop at small towns and eat at the places the locals eat at to get a flavor for the local food. Wandering throughout the country while allowing my mind to wander is therapeutic for me. It brings a new sense of focus.
It appears that allowing one’s mind to wander can actually have its benefits. Researchers have shown that in some cases it can enhance our creative side. A study found that mind wandering expands a person’s creativity well beyond their intelligence and problem solving ability. It seems to engage a part of the brain that isn’t engaged when working on tasks. Mind wandering can also be attributed to an increase in some types of job performance when working on mind numbing tasks. By allowing one’s mind to wander it allows people to refocus and see the job with a new set of eyes. But not every job will warrant allowing one’s mind to wander. As a matter of fact, there are some professions that a wandering mind can be hazardous. It also seems there are benefits to allowing one’s mind to wander when considering long term goals. When people allow their minds to wander on what it is, they really want out of life, they come up with stronger and more realistic personal goals. They also found that by allowing their minds to wander they were able to postpone short term gratification allowing them to set long term goals. Though allowing one’s mind to wander has its benefits, it is still vital and valuable to stayed focused most of the time.
In Not Doing, D’Souza and Renner claim that mind wandering not only allows for creative inspiration, it helps make sense of this world’s complexities and uncertainties. According to D’Souza and Renner “We explored this in Not Knowing, and it is best captured by Spanish poet Antonio Machado’s lines “traveler, there is no path, the path is made by walking.” It is this ability to wander, get lost, find our way again, and take unusual paths that might help us map uncharted territories.” We are all taught in geometry that the shortest distance between two points is always a straight line. Could it be that the wanderings and detours of life are essential for mapping out the uncharted territories of our lives? Have we became so obsessed with focusing on life that we have lost our will to explore? What is the value of walking through life in a straight unaltered course?
 Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner, Not Doing: The Art of Effortless Action, (London: LID Publishing, 2018), 223