Down the Rabbit Hole

Down the Rabbit Hole

It’s a lovely Saturday and you take a second to look something up. Something like, say, frosting because you’re making a cake and you want the best butter cream recipe on the web. The cake is in the oven, you have a few minutes and you want your frosting nice and fluffy, ready to go when the cake is cool.

Only that’s not what happens. Instead, the recipe for the perfect butter cream is sitting on the printer, the cake is cold on the counter and you are reading the latest research on microscopic carnivorous frogs of the Amazonian rainforest.

How does this happen? Like Alice, you have fallen into a rabbit hole. But instead of a gaping space between the roots of a beautiful old tree where you just paused to rest a moment, yours is the twenty-first century version. It’s filled with characters just a wild, creepy, and dangerous as the ones conjured up by Lewis Carol.

I’m the queen of the rabbit hole. I am a walking encyclopedia of bizarre and generally useless information cataloged while disappearing into the twisted paths of the internet when I was supposed to be doing something useful. I would blame being up too late at night or too early in the morning, but it’s just as likely to happen on a Tuesday at noon when I’m supposed to be pulling research for a project at work. One slip of the mouse and I’m off on a new adventure!

On occasion, I wind my way through the useless and discover something incredible, like the value of art in warding off dementia and creating channels of communication in underserved, at-risk school populations. Other times, the only person who would EVER be interested in what I learned is my mother, because she loves me and will listen even though she’d rather be trimming her toenails.

Like Alice, I probably need a little nap. A break from the time spinning reality of my busy life. Unlike Alice, time to sit and read by a tree is limited and long walks in the woods relegated to a few days of vacation a year. I discovered recently that my virtual trips across the vast space of the universe via the internet have a benefit beyond expanding my knowledge of the strange and trivial. They often happen when I am wrestling with a challenge at work or trapped on the ledge of a vast plot hole in my latest novel.

These excursions into the dark mysteries of science, art, or popular cultural give my spinning brain a respite from my latest challenge and I often hit on something that breaks loose the very idea I need to move forward on a project. I trip and stumble, landing somewhere magical. Perhaps it’s a piece of research tied to the study of a tribe of indigenous peoples or the lovely green of a microscopic carnivorous frog.

A walk might be better, but I can’t get as far away or fall as deeply into a different world.

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