Monday, January 30, 2012

The Boggled Mind

At times I suspect my mind is a blender set on "puree," with no "off" switch. I am constantly in a state of awe over things I can't imagine anyone else taking the time to think about: simple, passing thoughts which, if grabbed and examined, can indeed boggle the mind.

There are seven billion human beings on this planet, and yet there is only one me and only one you. Seven billion individuals--each of them their own "me." How could this fact alone not boggle the mind? I know, this is sort of like buttonholing a complete stranger on the street and saying, in an awed tone, "Did you realize the sun rises in the east? Every single day?"

Because there are such an infinite number of things to be utterly fascinated by, some sort of inner defense mechanism kicks in to prevent us from becoming so distracted that nothing else gets done. It throws a blanket of unquestioned acceptance over everything not directly affecting the individual, and it is only when we lift up one corner of the blanket to see what's underneath--and again, it seldom occurs to anyone to do--that we can appreciate the incomprehensible complexity and awesomeness of the world around us.

Children have not yet learned that imagination, that wanting to know a "why" for everything, increasingly becomes an anchor slowing down the progress of our individual lives. We learn not to ask, simply to accept. The camera of our mind goes from wide-angle zoom to close-up. Our concerns and interests increasingly focus on ourselves and those immediately around us.

Yet deep within us the wonder resides. Even adults tend to be fascinated by magic. Movies and TV provide for us the wonder we are fairly well unaware is readily available to us if we just open our mind's eye to see it.

Here are two little exercises you can use to demonstrate my point. 1) Open your hand and spread your fingers wide. Now stare at it intently; really concentrate. Examine every crease and wrinkle and tiny crevice. How did they get there? Why are they there rather than a few millimeters in any other direction? 2) Write the word "the" or "an" or your own first name. Stare at it. Again focus all your attention on it. If you do it properly, you will be almost willing to swear that you have never seen that word before.

What's the point to this sort of activity? Looking into corners that you can get by perfectly well without ever looking into? Because our lives should consist of more than getting up and going to bed and filling the interval between with the routines of every-day life. We need to think of things seldom if ever thought of not only as a form of mental exercise, but for the almost childish pleasure it can bring. The mind needs to be boggled every now and then, or it will atrophy.

I admit that my mind is undoubtedly more boggled than most. I probably allow my mind more freedom to wander around than most people, caught up in the necessities of their lives, can really allow themselves to do. I ramble. I digress. The night skies of my mind are a constant fireworks display of thoughts and ideas and memories and impressions. I try to catch as many of the sparks they throw off as I can, and put them in these blogs. Granted, I do no get anywhere nearly as much done...including writing my I should and would were I to reign in my thoughts a bit. But like Oscar Wilde said, "I can resist anything but temptation," and given the choice between reining in my thoughts and letting them run free, it's no contest.

I know you probably can't afford such luxury (if you would even consider it to be luxury), but that doesn't mean you can't afford a minute or two from time to time to open the cage door of your mind and let it fly free.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs ( ).


Kage Alan said...

It snowed here yesterday. Imagine sitting at the window, looking at all the snowflakes falling to the ground--and I mean a blizzard--only to realize that no two of those flakes the world over will ever be the same. Same thing?

Dorien/Roger said...

Exactly! There's so much wonder out there if we would just open our minds to it every now and then!