Invitation to Moodle

How are you going to know what you think if you never take time to think?

I am stating the obvious, obviously.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, we can now communicate at warp speed. All the time. All over the planet.

On the other hand, thinking while communicating seems to (let me be careful here) challenge some folks.

There. I said it.

That sounds snobbish, you say, rightfully peeved. Truth can be tough, I respond, kindly. With a smile.

The Clatter of Life

Truthfully, like many of you, I listen to the radio (talk) (don’t start), watch television (news, Giants baseball, my favorite British dramas, THE OLYMPICS), frequently check for what’s trending online, keep up with Facebook and Twitter, maintain my blog, and follow others.

I also read. A lot.

You probably do some or all of these things. Maybe more.

Fact is, we may be neglecting something beneficial. It’s called moodling.

What it Is

In her wonderful little book, If You Want to Write, published in 1938, writer Barbara Ueland, suggested that our imaginations need periods of moodling: “inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”  Around the yard, in the hammock, lying in the grass, slow walking around the block, driving (leisurely, of course) to the coast or the mountains or through the vineyards.

It’s being willing to close the laptop, turn off the cell phone and the radio and the TV, disengage your mind, and let your subconscious wander.


It’s letting your thoughts climb into a lone canoe and drift.

It is time with for mentally letting go.

Good Things Unleashed

New research is affirming the benefits of moodling, or mind wandering, or “task-unrelated thoughts.”  It seems to act like a release valve for all kinds of productive, creative things in our psyches, things suppressed in the verbal and electronic flood.

Children also benefit. Recent studies link “daydreaming” with creativity, healthy social adjustment, and good school performance.  Not surprisingly, these studies also find that children who don’t spend enough time daydreaming, and who fill their time with television, produce schoolwork that is “tedious and unimaginative.”

For kids, television acts like a mental vacuum cleaner on creative thought.


Moodling is generally a solitary exercise unless you can find someone willing to moodle properly with you.  Someone who could idle, dawdle, putter, ramble, drift, without filling every minute with, you know, chatter.

Very often, in that state of mental rest, the Word will bubble up with an insight, or revelation. Or perhaps a childhood pleasure will surface, a long-forgotten memory, a face, a name. A creative spark may ignite.

Here are some suggestions for moodling:

  • Make the conscious effort to moodle once a week. At a minimum.
  • Refuse to feel guilty about it. Think of it as mental battery recharging.
  • Share with someone (an appreciative someone) a few of the things that surfaced while you moodled. Assign value to these thoughts. Because they are valuable.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” writes Annie Dillard. And there are a finite number of hours in that life.

Some of them should be spent in the lone canoe, adrift.


Do you? If so, what prompts it in your life?


One response to this post.

  1. I LOVE moodling time! Almost too much I think. Sometimes for me this is the only way to de-compress from the business of life. To just let go and to be! Thanks so much the the great post!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: