What Do You Think About When You're Not Thinking About Anything At All?

When I was in the 6th grade, I did a social science fair project on how TV time affected family time. Even back then, my own family were hard-core screen time addicts (My parents STILL own six TVs, and it’s just the two of them), so I had to recruit another family to journal their “No TV week” for my project. Of course, we knew what would happen. The first couple of days without the constant drone of the TV would put everybody in a jittery mood, but soon the family would begin talking more, playing games together, and by the end of the week—they didn’t even miss their TV! (At least that’s the story I’m telling myself today.)

Vacation is sort of like that. You get all worked up about “unplugging” for the week, and then by the time you get there, it takes a couple of days to settle in and unwind. It’s worth it, of course, but if we don’t have a rhythm of work, play, and rest, we can forget how to do it. I like vacation time to feel different than regular time, so I don’t cook, work, or watch TV while I’m away from home.

Our family spent last week in Hilton Head. We’ve been going there every summer for the last 15 years or so. Are we traditionalists? Yes! There’s something comforting about returning to the same place year after year, the familiarity of the sand and the waves and even the houses.

My neighborhood is located in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. It’s really hilly and not conducive to leisurely strolls on a beach cruiser, so one of my favorite things to do while I’m on vacation is ride my bike. It’s a great way to see the island, and so vacation is literally the only time I ride my bike outdoors. I can easily cover 12-15 miles, something that makes me feel alive and happy and not at all guilty about having ice cream afterwards.

When I got back, a friend asked me about riding.

“So…do you like listen to music…or what do you do while you’re riding?”

I never really thought about it. I don’t really do ANYTHING while I’m riding.

Of course, there’s one BIG reason I don’t listen to music:


“So…like what do you think about?”

That’s a good question.

What do YOU think about when you don’t have to think about anything at all?

I’m on vacation. I don’t have to think about what we’re going to have for dinner or what the kids will do if they get bored. I don’t have to pay bills or really do anything I don’t want to do.

On my beach rides, I think about the scenery, about the books I’ve been reading, about ideas I’ve been thinking about. I think about how far it is to the next red light and whether I should pass that family up ahead. I wonder if the fruit stand is open and if I should stop and buy some peaches. I wonder if they’ll be bruised from bouncing around in my basket on the way back. I wonder if the rain is going to hold off and if I should turn into Shelter Cove because I heard there’s a big sun dial there and I never noticed it before. I like to breathe deep of the salt air and feel the wind on my face. I like to pass the lagoons and look for alligators. Sometimes I pray. I think about the people I love.

When my friend asked me what I think about, I wonder what HE was thinking!

Today, I got in the car to drive to my favorite cycle class at the gym. About a mile from my destination, I realized I had been driving in silence.

I guess it’s going to take me a few days to turn the noise back on!