The absent-minded professor in me

The absent-minded professor is commonly used to describe someone who are so engrossed in what they are doing or thinking, that they forget their surroundings. It is a common stereotype that professors get so obsessed with their research that they pay little attention to anything else.

I have been called this on several occasions, although not very often now. Sometimes it can be very helpful to be so engrossed into something, an activity or thought, that everything else fades away, and sometimes not so much.

Not that many years ago I was on my way to work, I wanted to get some breakfast on the way so I decided on McDonald’s drive-thru. I stopped at the intercom to tell them my order. I stopped at the first window to pay. Then I drove right on past the second window without getting my food. That’s right, I was so far into my own thoughts that I forgot to stop at the second window to get the food I paid for less then 1 minute before. I remembered a few minutes later, but I would have been late to work (and too embarrassed) so I didn’t turn around

I definitely have an absent-minded streak in me. Add the fact I do not suffer from ADD at all, sometimes I have to force my own distractions. When I used to play mmorpg, I could sit for hours without moving. Of course I believe video games can be an addiction which is another matter, but still, sometimes this would require you to yell at me for me to notice. Anyway, I still find myself able to be so immersed in a book that I will miss a meal. I have been so caught up in my own thoughts that I have driven past my exit, the same exit I have taken everyday for years. I have seen in my mind exactly what I want to paint and have spent hours on end to make it real, not even needing music or tv or people to break the silence around me.

A few weeks ago I left to do some errands. Take out the trash, go to the store, pick up a movie and get dinner. As I was driving down the street to go to the store, a car honked at me at the stoplight. I rolled down the window and the person informed me that something was hanging on the side of my car. Well, damn. The trash I hung on my side window, that I was suppose to drop off on the way out of the apartment complex, was still there. I pulled into the gas station right away, with a cop car following right behind! I quickly jumped out to grab the trash bag and dump into my trunk. The cop asked if everything was ok, and I sheepishly said that I was distracted and forgot about the bag. At least the bag was still intact.

Now its your turn. Share an absent-minded moment in your life, I know you have one! Don’t make me be the only one to embarrass myself!

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About Inner Love

I want: Passion. Desire. To create Cosmos. I want: Expression. Depth. Meaning. I want: Joy. Laughter. Love. I want: Life. View all posts by Inner Love

14 responses to “The absent-minded professor in me

  • Roger's Place

    When you get to be 66, you can suddenly realize you don’t know where you are or how to get home. A few moments of paying attention can resolve this, at least up to now.

    Sometimes you can wake up and not know which house you live in…as in am I in the Chicago house, or the Nebraska house, or the Oregon house?

    Sometimes, you can do this when you are 35.

    Not that any of these things ever happened to me…I’m just saying…

    • Suzanne

      I have woken up and been disoriented and not known where I was, but I think that was more due to the dream I was having at the time.

      Like those people who have to look at their phone to remember their own phone number, I will just use my GPS to remember how to get home.

  • shoutabyss

    Very interesting stuff! I actually have been thinking about a post on this very same topic.

    I call it “mindlessness.”

    Sometimes I’m in the shower, I wash my hair, then I realize I can’t remember if I’ve already washed my hair or not yet. Irritating, then I have to wash it again just to make sure.

    Or I’ll make a pot of coffee then go to work and forget to take some with me and leave the coffee pot on.

    There is an excellent book by Dr. Ellen Langer called “Mindfulness.” It basically says, “Use it or lose it.” There are some excellent studies in there. Some day I plan to re-read the book and make a series of blurbs for my blog on the topic.

    • Suzanne

      Like the saying goes: great minds think alike πŸ™‚

      I look forward to reading the blurbs, whenever you get around to adding it to your blog.

  • Slamdunk

    Funny. Living at an apartment complex where I had to drive the trash to the dumpster, I have done the same thing–gone cruising around before discovering the refuse on my car.

    As I have gotten older, my forgetfulness is being magnified. For instance, one of our little ones will need a diaper change and I’ll make different stops in the house to get wipes and a trash bag, get the kiddo’s old diaper off while he/she is lying on the floor, and then realize I forgot to get a new diaper. Duh…

  • annex50

    The trash story was funny. At least you didn’t get a ticket! You do sometimes have this about you. It is not necessarily a bad thing but there are times when around other people that it can present as being cold. It can be particularly bad if you are around other people you don’t know well and they call your name and you do not hear them because of your engrossed thoughts. They just think that you are ignoring them or are too good for them which obviously isn’t your intent. The only remedy is to smile more and ask people questions. Then they don’t misplace who you are.

    It’s interesting the difference between obsessing over active versus passive thought. It’s only mindless if it’s passive thought, meaning thoughts that occur without your control but that aren’t layered or differ from everyday experience. Your obsession of an art piece would not be mindless. Anyway…

    I do stupid things all the time but they occur frequently enough that I forget them. I have grabbed the wrong soda can before which was a week older than what was desired. I put my shirt on backwards. I have left Madonna on my music playlist when hanging out with other guys. I have driven with a drink on top of my car until it has spilled down my windshield. I write lists for myself to buy things, get to the store, forget what I need to buy, and also forget to check my pockets for the list. I, apparently, rent so many bad movies that I forget which ones I have seen before when I go to blockbuster. I am sure you can and will fill me in on more in the future.

  • Seshadri

    I am not sure whether it might be absentmindedness but during the past few months, I act as though I forgot something, an increased level of anxiety, uncertainty or absentmindednes..I lock my car, come home and then goto bed and suddenly feel as though I was absentminded enough not to lock the car and I go down to check if the car is locked again πŸ™‚
    Spilling coffee has become an integral part of my day, I just forget where the coffee is how much sugar I put in, where did i keep my bag, my bike in the mean time I spill the coffee and also forget where my bike was parked πŸ™‚

    • Suzanne

      You are in school getting your PhD now, right? Maybe you are stressful and forgetting about all the little things that you do in a day and it creeps back up.

      Or maybe doing the things unconsciously and automatically, like locking the car, that when we actually think about it we can’t remember what we did.

  • Seshadri

    I focused hard on the energy that is driving these absentmindedness and guess what its not my PhD and the associated stress…
    A downward spiral last year, culminating with an act of vanishing by my ex, these two alone are causing the absentmindedness, stress , anxiety insomania and hence bad dreams and -ve energy

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