“When I want to be busy with books, I am often playing truant among my thoughts.”
-- Dorothea Brooke, in Middlemarch, by George Eliot
Dorothea sounds remorseful about her truancy among her thoughts, but perhaps she shouldn’t be. I’m not at all ashamed of my customary journeys among the thoughts that surround and reside within me. When I’m trying to take in the words in a particularly puzzling book, I sometimes wander off and aimlessly follow the tracks of ideas inside me, meandering hither and thither in a purposeless but pleased manner. The book’s pages proceed ahead, and I’m still reading the words, but my mind is adventuring with dozens of ideas, those spirited mental playfellows that swarm through our lives. They arrive from the back of beyond, swirl around our hearts and minds, and then stream away to wherever – and nothing is more fun for me than messing around with them while they’re visiting. For the sake of playing truant among my thoughts, I sometimes gladly give up getting the main point of a book I’m reading. Winding my way among fascinating thoughts is often far more fun than following the stringently controlled steps of meticulous sentences and paragraphs.