It’s uphill to manage all the teasing, leaping, often vexing thoughts that run through one’s mind. J. and I have a few tall trees to get around in life and work in this season and I’m aware of the need to take my thoughts captive. Cleveland Clinic says we have 70,000 thousand in a single day. It would be interesting to build a matrix of them. How many bring peace, and which mean war.
Many in my day bring fear. I am too often Hannah Hurnard’s allegorical little Much-Afraid. J. put the skids on negative thinking this week as I fretted over a business call: Stop now. You know how to do this.
The sports psychologist: “I have an exercise for you … Hold your hands out. I’m going to push down on them, and you think about … what you use to fuel you, what you think about that motivates you. Keep that thought in your mind and resist me trying to push down.”
The athlete: “He pushes down on my outstretched arms. I grit my teeth, and I think about the places I always go to push through … Waking up to an above-the-knee amputation. The punishments in the orphanage. I think about my hands, which don’t work well … I can’t resist the push anymore. My chest caves in and my hands drop down under the pressure.”
The sports psychologist: “Okay. We’ll do the same thing again. But this time, think of something that makes you feel warm and happy inside.”
The athlete: “It’s all I can do not to roll my eyes. I hate this stuff … my body doesn’t like being forced from the comfortable space of anger. But I do it anyway. I close my eyes. He pushes down. I think of … I resist the push for twice the time.”
That strong impression circles me back to something I learned a long time ago. Eschewing self-consciousness, the better journey through this life is upward and outward. The life of me is a wind tunnel with hurricane noise. It can be uber competitive, fearsome and small. And “the second is this: ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mark 12:31) To direct my thoughts from myself to another is like the loosening of a physical restraint.
Our daughter, hearing of the call, said, “Wow. That will be fun!” Testing that, I sat at my desk and opened the conversation on a light breeze. I heard a melody.
“’Pansy’ is believed to be derived from the French word ‘pensée,’ which means ‘thought’ or ‘remembrance …’”
“This is the man who thinks too much, who stands back from his life and never lives it. He is caught in a web of pros and cons about his decisions and lost in a labyrinth of reflective meanderings from which he cannot extricate himself. He is afraid to live, to ‘leap into battle.’ He can only sit on his rock and think …” Robert L. Moore, “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover”