The sixth grade class had finished their assignment on the computers in the media center and had been instructed to sit and read until time to leave. For many middle schoolers, this means sitting with your book open and pretending to read while whispering to your friend. However, one young lady was sitting with no book open, staring into space. When I asked her why she was not reading, she looked up with me and with all sincerity said, “It’s okay, Mrs. Flake, I’m busy in LaLa Land.” And with a smile, she returned to her task.
I had to laugh because I have spent quite a bit of time in LaLa Land. As a kid, I remember lying on the couch, thinking up stories in my head or dreaming about the latest “favs” in the teen magazines. I grew up in the days when our parents didn’t feel the need to schedule every minute of our day and we didn’t have constant entertainment at our fingertips. I spent a lot of time outside doing – nothing. I walked in the woods, played with my dogs, and had pretend games with my friends. Maybe I was a spacey child, but I had an active imagination.
Sadly, I don’t visit Lala Land much anymore. Boredom is now considered a deadly sin and I am as guilty as anyone at making sure it doesn’t happen to me. Listening to NPR and Pandora, watching Netflix and obsessively checking Facebook all cut into the LaLa Land time. I am seldom quiet and still. Even sitting at a red light gives me a second to check my messages.
“All Tech Considered”, an NPR program, recently ran a piece called “Put Down Your Smartphone. You Might Think Better For it”, highlighting the upside of boredom and encouraging folks to take a break from all the technology. They suggest that we might be smarter for it:
“If you’ve ever felt like your smartphone was getting in the way of a breakthrough thought, you may not be off base. Research suggests that our brains need downtime and that people have some of their most creative ideas when they’re bored. The constant distraction of our phones can get in the way of that.”
LaLa Land is a place for our brains to get the downtime they need. When we are in LaLa Land, we are not thinking about what needs to be done or where we need to go next. We are are not concentrating on any outside stimulus, so we can listen to the thoughts inside us. Lala Land doesn’t have any rules or expectations or judgements. We are our true selves there.
When I visit Lala Land, I usually meet up with God, walking in the metaphorical Garden. He’s always hanging out there, waiting on me to take some time to stop by. Lately my devotional time has been pretty lame. I’ve just stuck my head in and said, “Hi, God, what’s happening? Here’s what I need, thanks!” and run out the door. And then I wonder why I’m feeling out of sorts and disconnected from my spiritual side.
Ahead of me is a whole glorious week off, one of the perks of working in a school. I have several projects to do around the house and friends to visit and TV shows and books to catch up on. But I am also planning to spend some time in La-la Land. While there I hope to give God more than just a “How do you do” and maybe we can have some talks. I might even get smarter in the process!
Hope you have time to visit too!