Running Rogue

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It is with some embarrassment that I want relay a story of how I lost of my car and temporarily, it appears, my mental capacity. Recently, I went into the driveway with my cars keys in hand and found my car missing. I was shocked. First of all, I had not heard any suspicious noises and second, who would want to steal my car? I will spare you great details but my car is by no standards flashy or fast, which is exactly what my husband pointed out when I called him.

We live fairly close to a park where I go running when time and weather permits, which had been the case that very morning. I wondered, in a slightly panicked way at this point, if I could have left my car there. Wondering, simply because I had absolutely no recollection of my return journey from the park, and this despite multiple very intensive mental information retrieval attempts performed while pacing in my driveway.  

I got myself a ride to the park and as we turned the corner with my suspense peaking, BINGO my car!  I was of course very relieved but also somewhat embarrassed and a little freaked out. How could I have blanked out that I ran all the way home?   

Following this incident I learned that mental lapses are common, every single person I relayed this story to had one of their own. Assuming there are no medical issues at play, there are essentially two reasons for this type of mental lapse. Interestingly enough, they reside at entirely opposite ends of the health and happiness spectrum:
  1.  Flow or being “in the zone”   
  2. Lack of presence

Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi coined the term “flow” back in the 1960s, meaning we get into a state of such intense absorption with our current activity that nothing else matters. We forget time, commitments and sometimes where the car is parked. When in flow, we are not only happy but we recharge, because we are elevated from everyday common feelings such as boredom, insecurity, anxiety or frustration. Sonja Lyubomirsky’s great book; The How of Happiness provides steps on how to increase flow experiences should you be interested.     

Lack of presence on the other hand, is when we are mentally removed from our current activity because we are preoccupied with thoughts pertaining to the past or future: What are we going to have for dinner? Why did I say that yesterday? I must remember to pick up the dry cleaning. On and on it goes igniting stress. This state, I believe, is generally more common in women because of our greater public and private combined responsibilities and also why I personally carry a note book (see my Balance Boost blog post).

The moral of my story? Do not drive to run!

What is your best mental lapse story? 

"We convince by our presence." 
— Walt Whitman


  1. I can't remember my last memory lapse ;) I do often find myself driving on auto pilot and ending up at a destination completely different from where I intended to go. Does this count?