I realize more and more that my thoughts sometimes behave like aimless, impulsive wanderers. At certain times of the day, they stroll around in a desultory manner, messing around with one topic or another for no noticeable reason. When I need to focus my thoughts, I can usually do it fairly well, but in a free moment (as when I’m fixing dinner, for instance) my mind might go from planning something for the summer, to regretting a remark I made yesterday, to wondering why my new neighbor across the street is so silent when he sees me. Like some strange, shiftless person, my brain occasionally seems to ramble around in a completely capricious manner. I’m not worried about this, because it’s the way all minds sometimes work. What bothers me, though, is that I occasionally 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 imps, I sometimes get completely captured by this disorderly kind of thinking. I can spend many minutes mindlessly swept away by my thoughts, and then “wake up” and wonder where the time went. I guess what I need to learn is to simply stay detached and unemotional about my own thoughts. After all, my thoughts aren’t “me”. They’re simply short-lived phenomena, like the unfurling winds, like birds coasting by, and the best approach to them would be simply observing and appreciating. Instead of getting lost among the roving, often ragamuffin thoughts that come my way, I should just sit back and be surprised by them.
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