A HANDFUL OF BROADWAYS
While I was going through the routine of making tea early this morning I noticed a couple of leaves falling from the cherry tree in the garden as a bird rummaged one of the branches, and I thought: it isn’t even September yet, and already the leaves are getting ready to fall... some indefinite time later I abruptly returned from an unforgettable autumn day in the Bois de Boulogne some time back in the 20th century, and thought: uh-oh…what did I just do... did I dump the tea down the drain or - no - I was on morning autopilot, so that's ok...
Amid the lingering ambience of the Bois, this bit of gentle confusion brought to mind something I hear a lot from and about folks my age after they wind up doing just this sort of thing: that their memory is slipping-- "absent-minded" is the old-fashioned term for it, idiomatically associated with a professor, which used to give it an intellectual cachet it doesn't have anymore.
My feeling, though, is that this isn't absence of mind at all. The fact is, that in this portion of a well-lived life the mind is by now so rich, so diverse in rewarding avenues of thought, the very Champs-Elysees of consciousness, indeed several Champs-Elysees, plus you can throw in some Ginzas and Ramblas and Unter den Lindens, a handful of Broadways and Route 66s for starters (and whatever else pertains in your particular case) while you're at it, and don’t get me going on the neighborhoods (let alone the wilds or the wildlife, rivers, mountains, forests) I carry in me and that render me subject to enthrallment by a priceless recollection or perception at any moment's turn in the everyday, it should be no surprise that now and then, like a little kid at a carnival I stop and gaze, meditating in natural delight until my return. If this is absent-mindedness, then Einstein was an idiot.
It's the opposite of when I was younger and my filling mind was always busy absorbing all the new things there were, sauntering the new avenues of thought and life I was mapping and experiencing - when focus was the essential point - in the midst of each new and newly fascinating experience I really had no lifeplace of my own yet for my mind to wander far off to, the way it does now. To give Gertrude Stein a friendly tweak, as yet there was no there there.
So if you've been enjoying a well-lived life, by the time you reach my age you have a lot of there there. With so many lives in you to live, re-live and be mentally active in, it should be no surprise if you're often in more than one life at a time (especially when in one of them what you're doing has become routine...). So you might as well admit it: you're not absent-minded, you're extra-minded.
If you don't believe me, just visit your Louvre.