On Not Thinking Too Much

thinker of hamagia

Sometimes I think too much. I don’t do it consciously. While my body is anchored in the physical reality of my surroundings, my thoughts cluster around something or someone like a squadron of flies and buzzes about it for hours on end.

When I think too much, I am not quite myself.

I dwell in a chamber of my mind rather than in my body. Bodily sensations pass through me as through a sieve—I am indifferent to them.

At the same time, I cannot concentrate and I have difficulties falling asleep.

“To think is to not know how to be.”

Fernando Pessoa as Bernardo Soares in the Book of Disquiet

My thoughts are not necessarily bad.

In the back of my mind, I recognize them as a neuronal wildfire. Only that attempts to put out that fire tend only to ignite it.

By trying not to think, I end up thinking even more. I end up thinking about not thinking and feeling tired and quite wearing with my mind.

Looking back on the happiest periods of my life, I find that most of them were free from too many thoughts. I simply followed the easy flow of the days, the easy routines, the simple demands of organic chemistry.

“Understanding is what wearies us most of all. To live is to not think.”

Fernando Pessoa as Bernardo Soares in the Book of Disquiet

My case is not against thinking that tends toward a tangible end or that invites to be shared with other people. Thinking to solve problems is good. But there are problems that thinking can’t solve. Like certain feelings.

Reading is thinking another person’s thoughts. Writing is also a form of thinking. This post too is a case of thinking.

These forms of thinking do not oppress me.

What disquiets me is the thinking that thinks itself through me. Thinking that must think itself, and that takes hours or days for it to do so.

I observe my mind. I know what triggers this form of thinking. I know it goes back to my youth and to the sense of vulnerability I felt then. I know also the circumstances that can trigger it.

Meditation helps a lot. But every once in a while, a swarm of thoughts like flies cluster around the fruit of my awareness, and to try to shoo them only makes them buzz more.

To know nothing about yourself is to live. To know yourself badly is to think.

Fernando Pessoa as Bernardo Soares in the Book of Disquiet

If there were easy, harmless pills for not thinking, would I take them?

Or if there was a tea for not thinking, would I drink it?

My thoughts are electrical impulses in my cells—they are what I conveniently call “myself.”

And yet, happy our days when we dwell in our bodies fully, not merely in our heads, when the world is reduced to agreeable sensations, not to thoughts.

One thought on “On Not Thinking Too Much

  1. Hi Vincent, I like Fernando Pessoa’s quote ( To think is not to know how to be ) It is so true for me. When I think too much, I do not do anything. Hihihi.
    Enjoy your weekend. Be well and happy. 😘💐🌹

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