Saturday, May 06, 2006

So, What Are You Thinking About?

I have come to the conclusion that when my husband tells me that he is not thinking about anything, he is telling me the truth. For years I did not believe it and, to be honest, I sometimes don’t believe him now. But there is nothing for it—I must accept that often he is truly not thinking about anything. I find this hard to grasp. Rarely is there a moment in the day when I am not thinking. My mind winds through tunnels of endless lists, ideas, rationales and questions. I think continuously and on multiple levels. I think about cleaning the kitchen, while I construct a new way to reform language. I imagine myself dancing in a field like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and, at the same time, I am dreading my age—how my flesh is no longer elastic and my eyes not as lively. I can be in-between joy and dread, anxiety and certainty. I think. I am one of those annoying people who want to know what you are thinking. If you don’t tell me yourself, I will ask. The more you stay silent on the topic, the more I will question. It is not random. I see a look on your face, a crinkle of the eyebrows or a turn of the mouth. I hear a sigh, a groan, a mumbling. I ask: what are you thinking about? If you tell me nothing, I wonder if you are being honest with me because I can’t turn off my brain—my thinking machine. I am jealous of people who tell me that they are really, truly, thinking about nothing. I wonder how that feels. The closest I have ever been to not thinking is when I am sitting in front of the TV watch a sitcom. The hum of the TV lulls my brain to zero. I just follow the language and images without much thought. But if I am watching news, or documentaries or the like, the mind is ticking away. I offer commentaries to the news reporters—talking back to the numbing box: “that’s a load of crap!” I say. Or, “My god, could they really find DNA leading to the Amazon Women???? I must research that!” At night, I must meditate deeply to sleep or my mind will keep me awake. I write down all my to-do items for the next day so I won’t forget what must be accomplished. I keep a journal by my bed to write down ideas that seep in right before sleep. I play word find puzzles to focus my mind away from more demanding thoughts. I have a hard time closing the mind to nothing. I suspect that my husband and others who tell me that they are thinking about nothing are just not aware that they are actually thinking. Originally I had not considered this position, but last week a friend of mine told me that it is impossible to have nothing on your mind. A wise woman, she suggested that the person who professes nothing on the brain was simply not aware of their own thoughts. This makes more sense to me. Like the person who swears that they do not dream. The truth is that they don’t remember their dreams, not that they do not dream. Maybe it is a female thing. Maybe women are just more accustomed to being aware of their thought process than men are. I have no proof to back this up. However, when I ask a woman what she is thinking, she almost always has an answer or a multitude of answers:
Oh, I was just thinking about this car that cut me off on the road this morning. And then I remembered that I have to drive to the dry cleaners today and pick up that dress, because I have a party to go to this weekend. But then that reminded me that I must get that paper of mine, you know the one about rhetoric and my diaphragm, edited and send it out before this weekend. I have been putting it off for too long now. And then I thought that G.W. Bush might be a better human being if he had to deal with half the little crap I have to deal with on a daily basis. If he had to pay his own bills! You know what I mean? He is out of touch with reality. The man doesn’t think. I swear when he is searching for a word, mumbling and “ahing” like he does, he is really just trying to jumpstart his engine so he can think! God, gas prices are killing my budget! So, what’s going on with you?
This is how my mind works. Exhausting. So, what are you thinking?

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