Not a word that you use just every day.
But, I know you know what it means. Just think squat-bodied room fan whirring in the corner blowing papers off the desk , ruffling the retriever’s coat,moving onto pushing the dust bunnies under the sofa. Got the picture? Yep, oscillating– to move from side to side rhythmically or to waver from one extreme to another.
I bring up this fun-to-say word, oscillating, because I heard a podcast wherein renowned neuroscientist Richard Davidson noted that people don’t really multi-task; instead, they oscillate. Davidson contends that the brain is not really handling multiple tasks at once. Rather the brain, like the oscillating room fan, is moving from one task to the next never pausing long enough for something drastic like, coherent thought.
That explains why my life as a mulit-tasker, I mean oscillator, is sometimes fraught with mishap. Like the time I threw away my car keys while depositing the water bottle in the drink holder, moving the trash container to the curb and adjusting my I-pod. For a brief shining moment, I knew that my key ring should stay hooked to my index finger but that was before the cranium wavering blew my focus to my untied sneaker. Without that cool breeze of attention, the car keys were dropped onto the discarded meatloaf inside the 3-ply trash bag stuffed at the bottom of the maroon trash bin .
Davidson’s explanation of brain function relieved my guilt at being a failed multi-tasker. So, the next time I forget who I called because I was put on hold and began humming along with the Barry Manilow instrumental, I’ll just say, “Pardon me, I was oscillating.”