A MADCAP MIND
I realize more and more that my mind sometimes behaves like a wild runner. At certain times of the day, it races around helter-skelter, thinking about this, that, and the other, jumping from one thought to the other for no discernible reason. When I need to focus my thoughts, I can do it quite well, but in a free moment (as when I’m preparing dinner, for instance) my mind might go from planning my vacation next summer to regretting a remark I made earlier in the day to wondering who my new neighbor across the street is. Like some zany, madcap individual, my brain occasionally seems to spring around in a completely illogical manner. I’m not worried about this, because it’s the way all minds work a considerable part of the time. What bothers me, though, is that I sometimes fall into an old habit of getting carried away by these undisciplined thoughts. Instead of standing back and observing them as amusing but harmless mental shenanigans, I often get entirely captured by this unruly kind of thinking. I can spend many minutes mindlessly swept up in my thoughts, and then “wake up” and wonder where the time went. I guess what I need to learn to do is simply stay objective about my own thoughts. After all, my thoughts aren’t “me”. They’re simply passing phenomena, like the breezes, like birds flitting by, and the best approach to them would be simply observing and appreciating. Instead of getting “lost” in the stray thoughts that come my way, I should just watch and be amused by them. Like a sailor at sea, I should learn to enjoy the “waves” of thoughts that come my way without being controlled by them.
(first draft written 8.25.07)