|Watching my mind, I see not just one rut, but
one Really Big Rut made up of many little ruts, little habitual paths of thinking. The
mind as flibbertigibbet.
Scatterbrained, indeed. Flit
from one of today's little work problems to one of last week's big family problems to
familiar regret about an opportunity missed two years ago to concern about a deadline
coming up next week to a bit of worry about a favorite tooth cavity, and so on and so on.
Is that really thinking? Aren't we just re-re-processing
mostly old stuff that we've gone over again and again? In a way, it is non-thinking
thinking, isn't it?
The so-called stream of consciousness is at best a stream
Perhaps we need to speak of momentum. This habitual
non-thinking has its own momentum, its own on-going force. Whatever it is in our mind that
does this, it really likes to do it. And it really wants to keep on doing it.
There's another momentum, in addition to these little
non-thinking thought habits we've developed through our life. There's also an far older,
larger momentum that we've picked up over the millennia of evolution. We're inheritors of
minds which have developed a seemingly successful coping mechanism which we call rational
thought and which in its simplest form consists of taking in information, weighing it, and
arriving at a decision.
That's the nice way to put it. What it means is, we are
genetically a bunch of compulsive worrywarts. Our very evolutionary history teaches us
(without saying a word) that it is foolhardy and dangerous to stop worrying. So we also
have all that momentum keeping us in the Big Rut.
To change this mental behavior is like a tiny tugboat
nudging up against the bow of a massive ship. To turn the ship, the small tug can apply
just a small pressure, but the turn takes time, perhaps quite a long time, and is so slow
that at first there is no apparent effect.
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