By: Bruce Levine
Hitherto unknown. Jodi wrote down the words and wondered why. What was she thinking about that caused her to contemplate the idea? Yes, it was part of a dream, but she couldn’t remember the dream either. Had she been thinking through something without even knowing and then, once she went to sleep, her subconscious had taken over and was trying to work out whatever she’d been thinking?
It wasn’t a completely new experience. She’d periodically gone to bed thinking about something and awakened with the answer that had eluded her the night before. The mind is an amazing thing, she’d often thought.
Jodi was one of those people whose mind always seemed to be working no matter how hard she tried to put it to rest. It wasn’t something she especially enjoyed, especially when it kept her awake at night and she’d lie in the dark, trying to get to sleep, but her mind simply wouldn’t let her.
Friends had suggested a variety of techniques to relax herself, even yoga, and she’d tried most of them, with varying degrees of success and mostly failure. In the end she’d given up and accepted her fate, realizing that she was probably making herself think more about not thinking than not thinking about not thinking and thereby only exacerbating the whole issue. Probably a cyclic effect, she thought.
There she went again – thinking about thinking and thinking about not thinking.
Her latest ploy was to try to write down the random thoughts that either kept her awake or passed through her mind without rhyme or reason. Sometimes they’d even repeat themselves over and over, like a song that gets stuck in one’s head and keeps repeating.
Hitherto unknown, however, seemed to have some special significance though. Jodi looked at the paper and read the words again and again. Two simple words, but no meaning other than their simple definition. Yes, whatever it was was hitherto unknown. The problem was that it remained unknown and now was beginning to drive her crazy. If she couldn’t figure out what the phrase referred to she wondered what to do other than try to forget that she’d ever thought it or written it down.
Now she was thinking about not thinking. And the more she thought the more the phrase repeated itself in her mind’s ear, as if it were being spoken by someone other than herself.
Was she actually going crazy? Was this the beginning of true insanity?
How could she ever know?
Whether she was going crazy or not became her new idée fixe.
Now she had two thoughts going on simultaneously and neither of them made any sense and both were consuming her thinking to the point that she was devoting all her time to thinking about thinking and therefore not doing the things that needed to be done. She began catching herself sitting in the same place for an hour and been totally unaware of what had transpired during that hour.
Now that began to ruminate in her brain. She suddenly began to wonder about losing time without remembering.
The thinking process had, she realized, become almost all-consuming. It was time to take action. But what action?
For the first time Jodi consciously decided not to think about it. She set her mind on abandoning everything that had been plaguing her thoughts. She knew that she had free will and that; given enough will-power, she could overcome the problem. All she had to do was simply accept that every time one of those thoughts entered her conscious mind she would force herself to think about something else, something pleasant or something productive to her life.
Hitherto unknown. Those two words, as she read them for what she decided was the last time, no longer seemed to be the enigma they’d been, but rather the answer – now it was known, she suddenly felt that they were the key to her problem.
Jodi tore out the page from the notebook she’d used to write the phrase, put it through her shredder and then then put the notebook in the garbage.
For the first time in weeks Jodi felt that she’d taken charge of her life again.
As she got into bed she intentionally thought about the plan for the next day – she’d give herself a day of everything fun she’d wanted to do recently, but hadn’t done because she’d been so consumed with her thinking problem.
She turned off the light and fell instantly asleep. What she didn’t know was that her mind was now working on over-drive again. Subconsciously she was thinking…
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