After my last post few weeks back, I had been thinking, procrastinating, reminiscing, waiting, forgetting and finally forcing myself to write a new post. Well, here am I trying to put together words but still struggling with them. It is 11 p.m. after a not so pleasant day at office, I am shuffling in my chair partly fighting fatigue and partly the ghost of writer’s block. I have got no clue what am going to write, I cannot think about any topic, subject or phenomenon to write. I do not know from where or how am going to get that stimulus to write. I am panning my surroundings trying to catch that elusive clue, that thin thread to pull out the ideas from the subconscious, that spark to fire up the thought process. However, am still at the starting block, seemingly frozen and locked up.
By now, I have downed one cup of strong coffee hoping to clear the cobwebs in the mind and coaxing the amygdala to throw up some emotions but in vain. Few minutes have passed, I venture out in the balcony. The outside world seems to be peacefully disappearing into the night. The gentle breeze blowing off a few dry leaves off the tree is adding the necessary special effects. Although my conscience is coaxing me to write, my mind refuses to oblige.
Now I change my tactic. I calm down, settle into my chair and take a deep breath. I close my eyes and try to focus inside, trying to rein in my adamant brain. No am not meditating though it may seem so. Sure enough the first thought that strikes is why doesn’t the medical research fraternity make a pill to generate thoughts and ideas? Just pop a pill and voilà….you’ve got a nice bunch of ideas. But it’s of no use if the ideas just pop up randomly and overlap each other. As it is, the mind is a chaotic being. To be able to do or write something constructively, we need to reach that ‘ordered mental condition’.
And to reach that condition, the psychic energy has to be channeled in a particular way so as to generate ‘the flow’. But we hardly notice how little control we have on our thoughts unless we are involved with some external stimulus like playing a game, watching a movie, reading a book, driving on a challenging road and so on. But as soon as the external stimulus is taken off, the mind wanders off to who knows where. It has the uncanny ability to fill itself with trash and gibberish. According to well-known psychologists, to control this chaos, we have to practice habits that facilitate control over the thought process. One of the simplest techniques is daydreaming, playing out pleasant and interesting sequences as mental images.
Jerome Singer, a Yale psychologist who has studied daydreaming and mental imagery perhaps more than anyone else has suggested that it can help create mental order and reduce frustration and pain of unpleasant past experiences. Sounds interesting, if only we could spend a better part of the day – daydreaming! The entropy in my mind kicks in….how do you study daydreaming? By studying other’s daydreams and daydreaming yourself? Not bad for a job. Now this has got me thinking, what did the great philosophers and thinkers used to do? What was the motivation for thinking when there were no incentives like the Nobel prize or monetary awards?
It is said that they just enjoyed the process of thinking more than anything else. Democritus, a pre-Socratic philosopher would sit for days immersed in thought. His countrymen, the Abderites had no clue what he was doing and thought that he was acting funny or was plainly ill. So they sent Hippocrates, a great doctor that time to check what was wrong. Now Hippocrates was not only a good doctor but also a wise man. After his discussions with Democritus, he immediately understood that he was merely lost in his flow of thoughts. Some of the retrieved fragments of Democritus’ writings prove how much he enjoyed the practice of thinking: “It is Godlike ever to think on something beautiful and on something new”; “Happiness does not reside in strength or money; it lies in rightness and many-sidedness”; “I would rather discover one true cause than gain the kingdom of Persia”.
Suddenly, the entropy in my mind again kicked in, I wanted to write on a particular topic but ended up on a roller coaster of random thoughts moving between the present, past and generally the abstract. Now I do not understand much about abstract painting which to me looks like random brush strokes of colors but I would liken whatever I have put down so far to abstract form of writing.