816 North Opinion

Floating in the shallow end of thought

I’m shallow.

Well, I have my shallow side, doesn’t everyone? By “shallow” I mean lacking intellect or depth of thought.

I can’t be the only person who lets their mind and words escape the deep end of the thought pool to revive them, right? While I can’t speak for the serious intellectuals of the world, when I escape real life I grab a mental floaty and go hang out in the figurative kiddie pool.

Like how, Susan?

Like movies.

Several years ago, 13 months before my last child was born, I had a miscarriage. The pregnancy was a surprise so it had taken me a while to daydream fit another child into our family (and our house). It took me a couple of weeks after seeing the plus sign to get through shock, past acceptance and onto excitement.

Three weeks after that, no heartbeat was detected during a routine doctor’s appointment. A few days later, it happened.

It was sad and uncomfortable; physically and emotionally draining. I don’t really know how other women handle things like this, but I lay in bed for two days watching Lifetime and Hallmark movies. The sappy and predictable romances and the stories of women in horrible situations who survive got me out of bed and back to real life. Escapism? Sure. Effective? Oh yes.

That’s still my default activity on days when the going gets tough and I need to check my brain into a spa. A heavy dose of four plots, three main character types, a handsome love interest, corny dialogue, and snow or rain when The Kiss happens. Repeat. Back to real life energized.

Sometimes I drift into the shallow end when stopping to watch a movie isn’t possible. Like in church.

I can’t be the only one who looks at people’s shoes when they are going up for communion, and has other church-time thoughts that probably won’t keep me out of heaven but sure feel like they will.

Hear me out: At the beginning of our church service we have a moment of silent prayer to think about and acknowledge our sins. What this does is force me to think about the huge mistakes I made in the previous seven days. A lot of times it’s the same ones I had made the week before, which means I had learned nothing from them.

Then I replay the cringe-worthy memories and feel worse about myself each time. I try to bring my mind into the present church-moment, but the guilt when I can’t only makes me feel worse. When it’s time to go to communion or there is a song I know by heart I’ll look around at my fellow parishioners and have a “You Go” fest.

“You go, Lady in the Appliqued Jacket! Looking great!”

“You go, Pregnant Woman! You are truly radiant.”

“You go guy who is carrying a crying child out to the lobby!”

“You go Teen Girl in the vintage-inspired pumps. They’re so cute!”

Nothing deep, nothing negative, but in a few minutes I have wiped the guilt from my head and can concentrate on the service at hand.

Shallow? Yes. Effective? Oh yeah.

I can’t be the only one who wants to talk about what they are making for dinner when wrapped in a serious discussion.

I can’t be the only one who wonders if they are the only one who uses shallow thoughts as a mental recovery tool?

Does thinking about how everyone must have a shallow side make me not shallow?

I’m going to get my figurative floaty and figure that out.

Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. To hear the women’s history podcast that she co-hosts or to read more of her writing visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com