I have to give William Wordsworth credit for writing some of my favorite poetry ever. Â I also have to thank him for inspiringÂ my latest column,Â which is aboutÂ an all-too-common struggle. Â Maybe you can relate?
I have very few stare-off-into-space moments these days. Nearly every minute is filled with something claiming my attention. I canâ€™t blame this entirely on my two young kids, nor can I blame it on the teaching job that claims vast amounts of attention 10 months out of the year. These are factors in my busy-ness, yes, but thereâ€™s another, more insidious force that always seems to fill the empty spaces in my life.
That force is the Internet.
Earlier this year, my high school students and I were reading William Wordsworthâ€™s famous poem â€œI wandered lonely as a cloud.â€ In the poem, the narrator recalls walking alone through the countryside and coming upon a lakeshore covered with thousands of daffodils. In the last stanza, he says that when he finds himself â€œin vacant or in pensive mood,â€ the memory of those daffodils comes back to him, filling his heart with pleasure.
Iâ€™ve read and taught this poem countless times, but this year, the words â€œin vacant and in pensive moodâ€ struck me anew. Is there a better way to describe daydreaming? Wordsworth perfectly captures that state of not actively thinking of anything else, not actively doing anything else . . . just being open to wherever our thoughts lead us.
And it hit me: I am rarely in a vacant or pensive mood anymore, because there is always something to fill those empty moments. Itâ€™s a small rectangular something that I carry in my purse.
You can read the rest of the columnÂ at The Catholic Spirit.