Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Life of a Mind

I don't know about your brain but mine feels like this rubber band ball I have at the office. My mind is a hopeless machine that is continually thinking up things, layering one thing on top of another, creating a mess of entangled, unrelated, blabbing. It is not as if I have much control over it. My mind just keeps producing thoughts, like a heart beats or a lung expands and contracts, over and over. It's sole role is producing thoughts. And that's what it does, ad infinitum.

At some point in my life I was hopeful that this profusion of thoughts and ideas might be a sign of a good mind. "My word, what a very good mind." Wrong. It is a sign of a mind out of control. Sometimes it is like an untethered, rampaging elephant, at other times like a tribe of monkeys swinging through the trees---from one thought to the next, branch after branch, day after day, for a life time.

At least that's what we think of as a life, all our thoughts and ideas. All our thoughts and ideas and what we did, or didn't do with them. That's a life. Think about. Or better yet, try not to think about. Good luck.

Like streaming video, the thoughts appear and pass on. It doesn't take much of anything to get the mind distracted and off to the next thought. In fact mine kind of likes that best, just moving from thought to thought. And it is more interesting if they are not related. Keep me distracted and I am like a person gorging on a delicious meal.

Just watch a couple of minutes of what is going on in your mind. Two minutes. Try it. Try to make a note of every thought you have for two minutes. Listen to them bounce all over the place like a ball on a racket ball court. Better yet, go the other way, try to not have a thought for just one minute. Humbling, isn't it?

Of course, some thoughts stay. And stay. And stay-and-stay-and-stay! The obsessive thoughts for me are usually related to a slight, or a sticky relationship thing. Things not going my way causes some rampaging. And then there are those who have contrary opinions. This is good for a two hour churn. Or worst, someone doing something in a way other than I do. Pretty damn unforgivable. I mean, I have standards.

This repetitive thinking about an unpleasant situation seems to be a major price of being human. That digging and gouging at every ouch of a conflict. The angry replaying. The mental retelling. The urge to "fix" the story, changing or exaggerating the event, blowing it out of proportion. The delight of coming up with better responses than we could at the moment of the event/slight/conflict. Retelling it with a better ending. Comparing the event to other events similar to it until we see some deeper meaning to what took place, some meaning that escalates our anger until we can think of nothing but the...one...damning...event. OMG! It is a quagmire of enslavement.

My mind is unstoppable and shameless and no thought is too low for it. What if every one could read your thoughts? Eh? The very idea of others reading my thoughts makes my mind run around like a person who just caught fire. I mean, I don't have thoughts like Ann Coulter or Anthony Scalia. I don't think I do. But some of my thoughts are a little, how should I say it, uh,...judgmental. Judging this, judging that, judging every frigging thing that comes before me. Is it good or bad, right or wrong? I have a judgment on everything.

Darwinist tell us that this judgmental work of the mind is what served to boost the possibility for human survival. Those early ancestors who were really, really good at reading the situation and making a good judgment about it survived. So it is a valuable skill. However, it seems to have become refined to a point of excess. Do I need to evaluate everything and anything? Yes, my mind feels compelled to do so, morning, noon and night.

So my mind spins like a whirligig until I drop into bed at night. Then, it can relax. Give me a break. But, no. Now it dreams! Insane things!! Where is the relief? I am trying to live peacefully with my mind. I know you, reader, probably have a quiet mind, like the "still forest pool" the Buddhists talk about. But, my mind seems like an ocean roaring. I guess knowing I have this kind of mind is better than not knowing. But, I'll have to think about. And, I have the mind for it.

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