To paraphrase John Dewey, “We only think when we are confronted with a problem.

Sometimes, that problem may be as simple as being bored out of our skulls. I have a 45(+) minute commute to and from work Monday through Friday. Much of it, depending on the route I take, is highway driving. The ride may be dull and repetitive, but I welcome these respites from the rest of my day. It provides time to decompress, by letting my mind roam… not unlike taking your pet to the dog park.

Quick note: I’m not advocating day dreaming or other distractions while driving. It is possible to “switch off” parts of the brain and still be a mindful driver. Never forget that you are guiding a big hunk of metal, rubber and plastics, which sometimes seem to have a mind of its own, around other people in their own worlds... and big hunks of metal, rubber and plastics, who may be just as bored as you.

Anyway, back to the mental dog park. It is important to give our brain time to play. We are bombarded with stimuli throughout the day, which our brains need time to process. You could, of course, wait till your head hits the pillow, giving your subconscious the job of sorting things out, but then those weird and wonderful intersections of stimuli could be lost, erased like a mental Etch-A-Sketch when you wake the next morning. With the conscious mind aware, these perambulations of thought can foster amazing ideas… or, as in this morning, a humorous diversion, which made my commute much more enjoyable.

Weezer’s cover of Toto’s Africa is in heavy rotation on the radio. I was half listening to the radio (for noise) and Weezer’s cover somehow morphed into Fordo’s Moria. I spent the rest of the ride amusing myself by trying to come up with lyrics for this newly spawned LotR parody song... which proved difficult, since I couldn’t remember the original lyrics.

I had the refrain down though.

“I took the ring down to Mor-i-ah.”

Let your mind wander and, like the proverbial dog in the dog park, it can bring you back the most unexpected gifts.

So where do you do your best (most constructive) thinking?