For a while I’ve been mulling over the issue of whether I’m in control of my thoughts or whether they come to me from external stimuli beyond my control. At first this struck me as an almost shocking thought—like an assault on my senses, like my body was being led around involuntarily by my own brain, like I have no control over my thoughts, like they control me instead.
I’m in over my head here. (Image credit)
Then this issue was given new impetus last week by a comment from Luke Stollings on my blog post, Mammy’s Candy Bars, specifically his reaction to this quote near the end of the story from writer Joan Didion, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” Luke wrote:
Good story, Earl! Your final quote reminds me of an idea from when I first learned about the Myers-Briggs personality types: that E-types (extravert, which is not the same as extrovert or outgoing) “think outside their heads” and an example of this is precisely what you said: not knowing what you think until you say – or write – it. For me this has been one of the big advantages of journaling: it helps me process and come to understand my own thoughts about things.
My feeble response to Luke’s insightful note seemed woefully inadequate on the blog, as follows:
Luke, thanks for your great comment! I’m mulling over writing a blog post along the theme you describe, namely, that often I don’t have control over my own thoughts, that they just roll out when I write, sometimes surprising even me. That’s part of the fun–and the discovery–of writing for me. I hope it’s not too disorienting to readers.
If readers of today’s post are starting to wonder what the heck’s wrong with me, wonder if I’ve been eating loco weeds or if I suffered a recent sharp blow to the head, or if they just feel disoriented so far, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.
An example of a thought that just rolled out when I wrote it, surprising even me, was holding a life-long belief that my grandmother (Mammy) had a sweet tooth. I had believed this for decades but I was shocked as I wrote the candy bar story to find I had no evidence in my memory of her ever eating a candy bar. This is, further, an example of losing control of a thought when I faced the reality of lacking evidence. I had just exploded one of my long-held beliefs!
In my little description of what this overall blog is about in the right column near the top of this and other blog posts, I promised, among other things, “. . . just crazy stuff!”
Does any of the above make sense, or is it just crazy stuff?
Oddly, after nearly sixty blog posts since I started last year, I’m more eager than ever to see any reactions you may have. Seriously.