18 Oct

The thought occurred to me about a year ago. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I don’t think enough about what I’m thinking about.

Do you?

And that’s what got me asking more questions every day. It's a painful exit plan designed to separate us from the comfort of a mother's womb when we have completed our gestation. There's no difference for all mammals, whose first instinct is to suckle a willing nipple. Taste buds tingle with the first sip of colostrum, urging a tiny mouth to suck harder. Eyes closed in utter contentment, shield the intrusive surroundings. A new mind, like a fresh canvas, is being stroked with virgin thoughts never thought before. Never to cease thinking until our final breath leaves a set of well-used lungs.

Imagine this instinctive mind turning experience into thoughts and storing them with emotions, touch, smell, sound, taste, and sight in memory for future recall. It must be a chaotic world within the first hour of life, compared to the blissful nine months of mostly sleeping. There’s a natural first connection with a mother, and then with a father and perhaps siblings. Every instance provokes a thought. The senses at peak performance are acutely triggered from the first experience and diminish in intensity as repeated familiarity accepts their reality. An introduction to a world of distressing fear, anxiety, pain, cold, discomfort, helplessness, hunger, and thirst. Is in stark contrast to comfort, love, warmth, nourishment, and more sleep. Thoughts occur naturally and are as vital as breathing to cope with an uncertain future.

What an amazing creation.

This beginning of life may be impossible to recall from memory, but this is probably a good thing. The trauma could scar us for life. Thinking as we do from the instant we’re born would be a tiring habit if it didn’t happen so effortlessly. It is difficult to predict what the first two years of thinking are all about. Still, behaviour shows a need to satisfy hunger, comfort, and social connection. As life progresses and individuals are introduced to language, their thinking world expands, and they encounter questions that demand answers beyond fulfilling basic needs. Some questions being answered by experimenting and others by asking.

“Children should be seen and not heard!”

“I’m busy now, ask your father.”

“Are you stupid, it’s so simple. Can’t you think for yourself?”

Phrases that stunt a thinking mind into withdrawal and lifelong thought anorexia. Heaven forbid you ask a serious question.

“Don’t worry about that. You’re too young to think about stuff like that. Go play with your brother.”

An embarrassed parent who doesn’t know the answer? Instead of;

“That’s a great question. I don’t know the answer. Let’s find out.”

Imagine Eintstein’s father, Hermaann the electrometer manufacturer, telling Albert not to be so inquisitive, and to go and play with Maja. 

Or John Russell, the viscount of Amberley fobbing his son, Bertrand, off and not encouraging him to think. Who was Bertrand Russell? A British philosopher known for his contributions to logic, the philosophy of mathematics, and analytic philosophy.


Now here’s a conversation I could imagine happening in the life of a young man growing up in Bethlehem as he sat outside, staring into the heavens.

“Jesus, what are you thinking about?”

No reply

“Jesus, I’m talking to you. What are you thinking about?”

“O sorry, mom, I was just thinking about what I’ve been thinking about lately.”

“You’re thinking about what?”

"Well, mom, Solomon warned us to guard our hearts because everything we do flows from there. So, I was just checking what's in my heart.”


Another wise man, the apostle Paul, gave us some excellent advice when he wrote to the Corinthian church and told them;

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Thoughts are as lethal as the tongue that has the power of life and death, as you read about a few lines back when a child should only be seen and not heard. Those words could not have been spoken without being thought of first. The saying; Think before you speak is nonsensical. Try saying something without thinking. It should be: Pause before you speak, think, and think again.

This one amuses me: What was I thinking? Normally, after some disastrous mistake. Exactly! What were you thinking? Definitely not thinking about what you’re thinking about.

Some of us seem to remain in the first two years of life, simply satisfying our basic needs and adding a few more, like instant gratification and boosting our ego. We have been given amazing abilities to think, be curious, discern, and decide. Our thoughts and choices steer our lives like a ship's rudder. Small shifts have major results in reaching the desired outcome. A ship’s crew doesn’t set a course and go to sleep until they arrive at their destination. They continually check the direction the wind and waves affect, correcting as they go. Like thinking about what they’re thinking about. Left to the elements, not checking their direction, they would ask, “What were we thinking?” 

When last did you think about what you’re thinking about?

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