navel-gazing in the presence of others

I am now and have been for many years, a writer. (Which is why you are reading this, right?) Ideas come unbidden to me throughout the day and night:  I am a troubled sleeper because I can’t seem to turn off the “white noise” in my brain. Now, I have learned to keep these ideas to a minimum if they come at an inappropriate time, like when I am doing something that could be potentially dangerous (driving comes immediately to mind). But the rest of the time I just let the ideas have their way.

When I do let those ideas run wild, I will often cease what I am doing and just sort of gaze into nowhere. That is, my eyes appear fixed on something, but I am not consciously focused on anything outside of my mind and its idea.

A few years ago, I joined a gym. The place had a reputation of being there for “serious” bodybuilders and  not for those who seek out social contact as part of their workout. Needless to say, I did NOT consider an exercise potentially dangerous and when an idea came I would stop the exercise, whether with weights, a machine, or stretching—although I would keep running if that’s when it occurred, running being a great method of cogitation-inducer.

So, needless to say, I often phased out of my workout (I know—not good for the workout) and, well, gazed at nothing at all.

One day, while in the gazing mode, the owner approached me and wanted a chat. He then told me that he had received “several” complaints from the few women who worked out at that gym concerning my staring at them.

Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about at first. At no time did he consider that there might be an alternative explanation for my “staring.” Nor did he brook any argument or explanation from me. It was a warning that came with an implied threat that should I continue I would have my membership canceled.

That incident came to mind when I came upon this piece in the Daily Kos email newsletter:

Comments and arguments welcome!