Headphones in, cranking tunes, with a bounce in my step, I set off on a leisurely ramble through the warrens of lower Manhattan.  With no destination in mind, with no exercise goal, with no conversation, with nothing ahead of me but the infinite inputs of the great metropolis, I was as light and free as I have been in at least several moons.  Lacking the weight that has recently characterized my existence, I felt taller, as if my spine was able to elongate.  Warm sunshine on my face accentuated the positive vibes, also providing a bulwark against the chilly breeze blowing off the East River.  Removed from all expectations and responsibilities, I finally had time to think.

The modern American condition is characterized by a schedule so ludicrous that it requires color-coded calendaring.  Harried parents rush to ferry their offspring to back-to-back-to-back activities.  Business folks wake and lodge an earpiece next to their brain, removing it only to pass out dead in bed at the end of the day.  Kids are trying to balance their schoolwork with the stresses of adolescence, the pressures of their family, and their innate but sometimes stymied desire to simply have fun.  To the extent that there are pauses in the day, they are not regarded as rest or recuperation, but as missed opportunities for more productivity.  Worse, these breaks are often spent pouring the detritus that is our media landscape into our mind spaces.

Few are the professions that do not require contemplation, that do not feed off cogitation.  My business is primarily an intellectual one — or at least a mélange between the practical and the cerebral.  In order to render effective legal advice, I must, usually within an almost immediate period of time, listen, analyze, and reach a conclusion.  This cycle repeats multiple times every day, one phone call ending just as another begins, with nary a speck of time to even take a breath.  Other jobs are no different:  a doctor, a therapist, a teacher, they all suffer under the yoke of the same mental workload.  Creative fields have a similar issue:  the drive to produce on a truncated timeframe is enough to drive one straight to the asylum.

We are not computers.  We should not be expected to act as such.  Our processors need time to warm up, need room for their circuitry, need moments to cool down before they are given another task.  Without that, we are reduced to acting solely on impulse, to saying the first answer that comes to our head.  Rather than allowing us to evolve, the environment that we have created is causing us to regress.  In this accelerated socioeconomic climate, in this rabid technocracy, our attentions, our abilities to concentrate have been abbreviated to the point that they scarcely exist.

In lieu of a collective acquiescence, a nationwide pardon, an agreed-upon relaxation, we have concocted solutions that are a mere temporary salve.  The rise in breathwork, yoga, meditation as formalized and/or app-based activities is symptomatic of the fact that nobody has the time to just go for a long walk and let the world and their thoughts come to them.  Instead, we have to schedule time to not think.  Some are much better at this than others and I give so many kudos to those that can switch off their racing brains for an hour.  My mind unfortunately cannot be so easily scheduled.

My time in the skin track, my time on the trail, these are sacred to me, but I have too long let purposeful, work- or parenting-based thoughts invade these hours.  The goal, the mission for this imminent ski season is to let the mind wander as far as my body does.  When the brain has put in some serious mileage, it will return home with thoughts that are equally far afield, those precious ideas around which it is alluring to build a life.