Just call me a free-style draftsman

I am a doodler. I can admit this fact. Were you able to see the sheet of paper that I am writing on, you would know this and perhaps scoff a bit, as though you never indulged in such childishness.

''Look at that one,'' you might say. ''Those concentric circles are not right at all; and that miserable way he pretends at Picassoesque abstractions: What nonsense!''

Everyone seems to be an art expert these days, but no one would dare admit to being a doodler. Well, some might, but only because they assert doodling lowers stress levels or keeps you from eating that last piece of cheesecake.

The doodler is seen as a sometimes moody, idle-minded brooder. Unless we consider the joyous doodler who scrawls happy faces and daisies across office memos and intrafamily communiques that get taped to the refrigerator door. The serious doodler has no traffic with such frivolity, nor does he aspire to the heights of great art.

The word ''doodle'' lends itself to misinterpretation. Just the sound of the word makes the act seem trifling. Suppose what we now know as doodling were called ''free-style drafting.''

According to Mr. Webster, a doodle is ''an aimless scribble, design, or sketch.'' At first there is something demeaning about this definition (the word ''aimless'' is most disheartening). But I grow fond of it. Actually, it's perfect. The definition communicates precisely what it is that leads me to doodle. To doodle is to cease yearning, to forget the aims and calculations of the day, if only for a moment. To doodle is to be satisfied.

In the present age the minutes of our day seem to move faster than our feet can carry us, and the halls of business and commerce bustle with an insatiable appetite for activity. While none of us would have it any other way (would we?), perhaps there is something to be said for an occasional aimless scribble, an undesignated design, or a heedless sketch. Isn't the doodle the perfect answer for all us paper-pushers, stenographers, secretaries, and letter signers?

One thing that does have me worried is the computer. Is it possible that the doodle will be whirred and hummed and clicked out of existence? Or is it possible that the computer, capable of every office task, might even allow the computer operator to doodle?

No, the computer is too exact, too perfect, to produce an ''aimless scribble, design or sketch''; however, I'm sure from what I hear of the ''graphics capability'' and ''programability'' of certain computers, a doodle is not out of the realm of the possible.

Doodles, like a good deal of all that's wonderful, come from somewhere between out of the blue and who knows where. To explain away a doodle as a psychological message from the subconscious is to complicate an idle pastime. Ultimately, I, a confessed doodler, must admit that doodling is just that: an idle pastime. I see doodling as a steppingstone to something useful.

James Thurber wrote these words in a preface to a collection of his essays and drawings:

''They (the essays and drawings) emerged from the shameless breeding ground of the idle mind and they are obviously not going anywhere in particular.''

While Thurber's essays are far more than doodles, I think it would be safe to say that many of his drawings and writings began as doodles of some sort.

So cast off your dignity and doodle! Doodle in the office; doodle on the train; doodle on your scorecard at the baseball game; wake up and doodle over breakfast. This is serious stuff.

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