I finally get why David Caruso stares off into the “middle distance” so much on CSI: Miami – he’s thinking. . . okay, he’s pretending to be thinking, but you know what I mean. For the past few days, I have caught myself staring at nothing for seconds at a time (except I don’t have hot sunglasses to pull down when I refocus, so I don’t think CBS will call anytime soon). I stare past people, past my computer screen, past the trees along the road where I walk. . . I’m thinking.
'Horatio Caine (David Caruso)' photo (c) 2010, Clyde Robinson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Now lest you think I’m trying to come up with the solution to the debt crisis or figure out why, exactly, David Caruso keeps getting prominent acting jobs, let me assure you I have nothing so clear as that in mind. Nope, nothing even close to that specific is passing through my synapses. I’m just totally zoned out.

You know the feeling . . something inside that world that is your thought process captures you, and you lose entire track of what is before your body. Your jaw falls slack, your eyes glaze over, and for that ten, fifteen, twenty seconds, you are gone, flipped back into your mind. It’s blissful, isn’t it?

When you come back to yourself – someone calls your name or waves a hand in front of your face (why does the phrase “Earth to Andi” come up so often in these times – we’re not really in the “space age” anymore, are we?) – it feels like the world has to stop spinning so you can catch up. I love that feeling.

It’s the same feeling I get when the writing is going well. What is before me disappears, and all I have is the world of the page. I can spend hours there (as long as I don’t succumb to the temptation to check email) and when I come back, everything around me seems more peaceful, less crucial, more like the thing that life is – important, beautiful, painful, and utterly beyond my control in most ways. It takes me a few minutes to catch back up to life, but those few minutes, just after the writing has been good and otherworldly, those feel perfect.

I can remember in college sitting against the fountain by the Climenhaga Center for Fine Arts. The afternoons were perfect for being outside, and no one looked for me there. I sat with my assignments from poetry class and disappeared into rhythms and words for a while. Those were some of my favorite moments from those years.

I need to cultivate that practice more. I need to step away from the internet and my to do list and just fall onto the page more. Maybe I can start by letting myself stare into that middle distance where nothing is in focus. Maybe those wanderings will lead me to the page.

With that in mind, I’ll calling for a moratorium on finger snapping and hand waving when someone zones out. Let’s let them go and feel that blissful disappearance for a few seconds. They’ll come back, just as we do. . . and maybe they’ll find a big breakthrough there. Mr. Caruso always does.

Now, where can I find a pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses?