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The Sweet Embrace of Zoning Out

Or I’ve Started Having A Conversation With Myself in My Head About What to Eat in the Middle of Something Important

I’ve been reading a book recently, The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht, which is a great dark and monstrous story that I’ll be talking about soon.

It’s a short book, around 150 pages — some of you can probably finish it in under 30 minutes. I sure did think I would.

However, at no fault of the story but my own brain trying to sabotage me, it’s taking me a while to finish. It’s now my 3rd week reading it.

And I’ve been drifting aimlessly between conscious thought and movement to autopilot mode for close to 3 months now.

I started thinking about the plant that can shapeshift into other plants — even plastic ones — while reading about Johann slipping from the darkness of the harbour and into town, quick and quiet.

Like, what does that mean for plants, can they see, is plant vision a thing? What other senses do they have? And then I’m imagining Florian talking about the old stories of Hallandrette’s Roe.

Zoning out is wild, especially in the middle of reading a book.

It’s also a little funny when your mind has wandered into sandwich territory, for instance, in the middle of a humdrum task like folding clothes or sweeping the floor.

What bread?

What meat?

What roughage?

What sauce and cheese?

Or one absolutely hilarious instance, in the middle of writing, when my brain suddenly wanted to think about what it would look like if teeth individually made a sound, like each one of them is singing Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift in different ranges.

It’s a horrific image. But my goodness, even my brain knows to enter into a psychedelic fugue state just to get me out of writing.

They say zoning out — or spacing out or daydreaming, whatever you prefer to call it — is when the brain switches over to your body’s default mode when it senses that you’re doing something that doesn’t require active thinking.

However, it also happens when you’re very overwhelmed, sleep deprived, stressed out, or worse, traumatised.

A coping tactic that distances you from what’s keeping you tired or afraid until you feel equipped to deal with whatever’s keeping you up at night.

I don’t know—

I think I had a goal when I started writing this. Because I am tired. I am overwhelmed. I am stressed out.

I can feel my brain eating itself from the inside each time it takes me out of doing chores or something I love doing like writing or reading a book.

Like being trapped in a glass case where time slows and quickens as it pleases, a phantom hand reaching in and out of my head just to poke around, pollute organic thoughts with fancy reveries, and I can see it projected from the hole on my head and onto the glass.

And I like it.

Most of the time, as I do feel like my capacity to comprehend is being taken away from me with each fugue state, I do appreciate the moments I’m not in the moment.

Other times, I just feel like my own brain just wants to fuck with me.

Anyway, all this to say I’ve been out of it for a couple of weeks now, and I might have to redo the things I’ve been doing to make sure nothing much was affected.

But I’m hoping your daydreams invite vigour and creativity, and may the inspiration be useful.


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