The wandering mind: WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival

The Wandering MindLet’s start with an earworm:

I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.

These lyrics come from the annoying 1954 ditty The Happy Wanderer, and not only do they perfectly sum up the state of my mind (baggage included) for large parts of my day, but they will also stick in your head all day (should you be old enough to know this tune). And an earworm like this puts your brain into a mindwandering holding pattern, according to Michael Corballis in his packed presentation at WORD today.

What exactly are our minds up to, when any of the following things happen:

  • you arrive at work and cannot remember the drive there… all
  • people talk about rugby as if you should care
  • lovely IT people try to solve your computer problems by using acronyms, many many acronyms

Well my brain had better behave at this WORD event: The Wandering Mind by Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Auckland, Michael Corballis, who will be discussing his book: The Wandering Mind (What your brain does when you’re not looking).

First up Corballis (who is regarded as New Zealand’s most eminent Academic Psychologist) assured us that it is OK to mindwander (collective little sigh of relief all round) and that, in his opinion, mindwandering promotes creativity.

But what about all that mindfulness that you have been so religiously cultivating these many long years past? Well, you might be a teensy bit happier, but we mindwanderers have knocked you right out of the creativity ballpark! So there!

Best of all, mindwandering is linked to story telling and according to Corballis:

We are the story telling species. And to story tell we need to mindwander. Back in time, forward in time, and into other peoples’ minds.

Then came the questions:

  • First one from the restless: It’s too hot in here, Can you open the door?
  • The second one from the worrier: Will something bad happen to me if I never mindwander at all?
  • The third one from a technogeek: How does technology affect mindwandering?
  • The final one from a Dyslexic daydreamer on the healing aspects of  mindwandering.

It is a terrifically interesting topic, presented as an engaging conversation between two old friends. And what is more, my mind did not wander, not even once!

4 thoughts on “The wandering mind: WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival

  1. knit1purl1 29 August 2014 / 5:33 pm

    You have set my mind at rest. 🙂

  2. bibliobishi 30 August 2014 / 3:37 pm

    Isn’t it lovely to be told one’s wool gathering is not only OK but beneficial?

  3. Marti Carroll 31 August 2014 / 10:31 am

    To be without thought or mind is a blissful state of being….until the rice burns or the bathwater runs down the passage.

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