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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Wandering

Written by: on November 9, 2020

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.”[3] 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?

[1] Http://greatergood.Berkeley.edu/article/item/how_mind_wandering_may_be_good_for_you.

[2] Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner, Not Doing: The Art of Effortless Action, (London: LID Publishing, 2018), 223

 [3] Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner, Not Doing, 223

About the Author

mm

Greg Reich

Entrepreneur, Visiting Adjunct Professor, Arm Chair Theologian, Leadership/Life Coach, married 39 years, father and grandfather. Jesus follower, part time preacher! Handy man, wood carver, carpenter and master of none. Outdoor enthusiast, fly fisherman, hunter and all around gun nut.

10 responses to “Wandering”

  1. mm Chris Pollock says:

    On wandering. Love this topic and the way you opened it up here, Greg!

    The (what can seem to be an) endless pursuit of some semblance of a path forward or ‘to’ somewhere can be so depleting and wearisome. Especially, when it seems like others around are just floating along in utter fullness and self actualisation.

    So what do we do without the ease of a map and destinations set? Who are we to allow our minds to wander all over wherever, to bushwhack through the unknown? For what?

    It’s not easy out there. It’s only as simple as whether or not we are willing to let go? Otherwise, anxiety and fear in those dark places.

    Many years ago, I had the chance to visit Notre Dame. So many people walking around in the space within it. Suddenly, I voice that could not be ignored resounds, ‘Silence, s’il vous plait!’

    (‘Silence, if you please!’ is the exact translation.)

  2. mm Dylan Branson says:

    It’s interesting how wandering in and of itself has no direct path, but wander enough and the randomness may become a solid path. Taking long walks at night is one of the ways I try and clear my mind and at one point, the path that I take most every night was once a random chance off the beaten path. But after walking it for so long, it becomes familiar. I see the same people walking their dogs most nights, the same security guards outside of the estates, but at one point they were all new to me. Now they’ve become part of my every day.

    It’s the same with new friendships. People you never thought you would be friends with can easily become the closest people you have. It just takes a risk to walk off of the beaten path.

    • mm Greg Reich says:

      Dylan,
      I find it true that wandering can eventually become ruts without our realization. It is only when we again begin to wander do we realize the ruts we have created and their difficulty to over come them. Not all ruts are bad but all ruts take effort to exit, especially if one grows extremely comfortable in the process.

  3. mm Darcy Hansen says:

    As a fellow wanderer, I agree with all you have posted. It seems though our culture is more the straight line between A and B, rather than the swirly path that comes with wandering. In what ways has wandering influenced your current work on your project? What new revelations have transpired as you’ve given yourself permission to step off the straight forward way and enter into the unknown?

  4. mm Greg Reich says:

    Darcy,
    Good questions! Wandering in relation to my NPO project has given me a chance to see what defines kingdom work in a theology of vocation concept.
    A revelation that I have experienced is the importance of flexibility. Though I am clear on my purpose and calling I have learned to allow the Holy Spirit to open up doors. I have spent a good portion of my life aggressively pursuing opportunities to have the doors slammed in my face. I have come to realize my job is to be FAT faithful, available and teachable and let the Holy Spirit lead and open the doors. I can’t force people to receive what I have to offer.

  5. mm John McLarty says:

    So you’re saying that my 15-year-old who is learning to drive, but can’t ever seem to remember where we are going and how to get there is really just fully open and present to the new discoveries and insights that come from wandering?!? But seriously, as a card-carrying member of the “Point A to Point B” club, I know how often I struggle to give myself the gift of wandering and wonder what I’ve missed along the way.

    • mm Greg Reich says:

      John,
      Teenagers are exempt since hormones make them challenging :-). I too am normally a point A to point B no nonsense guy in most things. Things slowly changed several years ago after experiencing some major disappointments. I realized that even though I have a clear destination in mind I need to take the time to enjoy the journey. In a coaching world the little a’s(goals and experiences) along the journey are vital because they energize us to continue to work for the Big A’s (major life goals). Take time to enjoy the journey my friend. When you finally reach a big A event the satisfaction is so much sweeter.

  6. mm Shawn Cramer says:

    Greg, our team tried to capture this concept in our norms. Due to the connections of the mind while wandering, we wrote “avoid sem-unnceccary rabbit trails most of the time, when we feel like it.” Ha!

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