Dangerous Thoughts

Sometimes in the morning, when I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, as I’m listening to music, watching the birds at the feeder through the window, having my way with words, drinking a cup of coffee, I suddenly feel warm and fuzzy all over. I’m enveloped in a glow of satisfaction and completion. And I realize I’m feeling about as good as I can feel in a day, without introducing sex, drugs, and rock and roll (or chocolate) to artificially boost or even induce the sensation. In other words, for a moment, I’m happy.

Aglow (photos by Rick, Italy 2013)

Aglow (photos by Rick, Italy 2013)

But other times I feel downright irritable, with my wife, with my work, with my stressed-out body, with how hard it is to write. It’s then that I catch myself at my worst, when the monkeys in my mind are making havoc with my mental tranquility, not to mention with my work and relationships. I’m having dangerous thoughts. No, not thoughts as fatal as committing suicide or turning to serious drinking or running away for good (and at such a late date!)—but dangerous thoughts. I’m beating myself up with synaptic kicks and punches—and any one else in there who gets in my mind’s way. And I realize that I have these dangerous thoughts more often than just during these isolated funks. I have them more often than I like to think I have them.

Dangerous Thoughts

Dangerous Thoughts

Here they come! They come like demons out of hell. I’m afraid I don’t have anything meaningful or interesting to share. I’m afraid no one wants to read my writing. Do I think I’m some sort of authority? Who the hell do I think I am anyway, thinking I can be a writer—let alone a successful one? I may not be guilty of having actual violent thoughts, nor even hateful thoughts, since hate is so imbued in violence anyway, but judgmental thoughts, yes, and perhaps even cruel or malicious thoughts. Am I splitting hairs here? While I may not allow myself to indulge freely in self-loathing, I certainly work hard (yet fail) to suppress self-doubt. And while I brag that I’m not superstitious, I catch myself at “creeping superstition,” the sensation that, maybe, just maybe, the circumstances are lining up in my favor, that someone out there is looking upon me favorably when in fact there’s no evidence to support such a thought. Wishful thinking turns to hope which becomes a real possibility for a moment, when in fact I haven’t even lifted a finger or clicked a key. Creeping superstition. Dangerous thoughts.

Monster Shop

Monster Shop

Then there’s the arrogance, the secret vanities, those feelings of superiority I swing about me like a cudgel in my mind—that my philosophy is the ultimate view, the answer to the world’s problems—that I’m the enlightened one. If only they’d just look they’d finally see themselves for what they are and clean up their act—then they’d thank me for my wisdom! I even have a vanity about not being vain!

Enlightenment

Enlightenment

But aren’t I baring my soft underbelly here, lowering my neck for the sword’s blow, making a show of weakness? Won’t these self-admissions gain me doubt, disrespect, even derision? Good question! But I keep on trudging down the shadowy path where, nevertheless, I continue to catch glimpses of light. I believe in truth. I believe in courage.

Mouth of Truth

Mouth of Truth

So I catch myself at these dangerous thoughts. I suddenly hear the monkeys rough-housing in my cranium. I feel them tumbling and thumping against the inner walls of my skull. Now what? After all, what will I have left to think about if not these holier-than-thou, self-fulfillingly prophetic negative thoughts? Won’t an unbearably weighty silence suddenly fall like a clap of thunder on the vast cavern of my mind? And, hey, what does a peaceful, kind, loving, generous, positive, productive, considerate, thoughtful thought look like, anyway?

Skull in Hand

Skull in Hand

In yoga, the sanskrit word ahimsa, meaning “non-violence,” refers not only to one’s deeds and words but also to one’s thoughts. The dangerous thoughts I list above are no less mental acts of violence than greed, envy, and covetousness are mental acts of violence. But I’m not sharing these seedy secrets in order to bring world peace; I’m sharing them to bring peace—and freedom—to myself. That’s where it starts—with the self. I try to open spaces of time to observe my thoughts, especially those naughty, incorrigible monkeys rattling the bars of my tight little cage, and simply watch them till they settle down and go to sleep. To self-doubt I reply that while I can’t prove I can write successfully, neither can I prove I can’t. The self-doubt monkey yawns, lies down, and falls asleep. To arrogance, I ask myself how I like living in an ivory tower. Lonely up here? Monkey Superior stretches, lies down, and takes a long nap.

I am not my thoughts. I may have my thoughts—my thoughts may be mine when I have them—but they’re really just little word noises that blow like autumn leaves through the small dark vacuum of an otherwise vast and well-lit self. In mind, I can remain silent; silence is healthier than we think. Or in thought, I can be creative. I can look at the possibilities. I can solve problems. I can appreciate. I can analyze (if for the right reasons—that is, not to compare, but to understand). Or I can observe my thoughts and put the monkeys to bed so I wake up in the morning already glowing with happiness.

Happy Boar

Happy Boar

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24 thoughts on “Dangerous Thoughts

  1. I found that reading that blog was completely worth it for many reasons, not the least of which was because you used the word cudgel. Dangerous word there Rick!!! rock on :))

    • Yeah, picture a cudgel swinging around INSIDE the skull. Especially considering I’m used to seeing cudgels (or the Master’s stick) swinging around OUTSIDE my skull. Welcome to the world of Zen cartoon images!

  2. Bludgeons, flagellations, woes, worries…It appears you have little to worry about. Beautiful work Rick. Keep em’ comin’.

  3. Rick, I’m so happy that you started a blog. I think you will find it helpful and useful in quelling those noisy monkeys. Thank you for sharing your views, they so often reflect my own personal views and thoughts. Keep it up, Teacher!

  4. So this is what you have been up to. So good of you to bring up all my dangerous thoughts and put them out there for the world to see. Rick, you are not alone. I will be so bold as to say we all have these dangerous thoughts because the mind is out to fuck us over. So if you can put this down on paper, acknowledge that they are there, you are one step closer to the top of the ladder. So many people never acknowledge who they are. It is a pleasure to see you bare your soul to us. Thank you.

  5. Great launch for your blog, Rick. We all have our monkeys, and I too enjoyed the image of you putting yours in the Samoan Sleeper Hold. No more monkeys jumping on the bed!
    And Fran’s right– it will get easier to be regular here. I have found that with my own kindergarten blog. The more you do it, the easier it comes. Just hit the publish button, even if you think it’s not ready. It rarely will feel like it is, but we have to publish more frequently than we feel comfortable doing. My first entry took me ten years to post. It doesn’t define you, it’s just your blog. Go for it, dude!

  6. “Because Rick flies and sings, at least symbolically, he embodies freedom. Rick is gentle, quick, and sharp with insightful eyes observing the world from every angle. A courageous, a lone explorer and the ever so tenacious hunter in creating paradise on earth where ever he goes. Nothing escapes his sharp attention, and concentration for the beauty of words, which lends to the extraordinary poems. Rick is passionate in his approach to the responsibility engaging with life, but equally asks us quietly. Are we owning our part? His works via his words are close, faraway, and vast. He is known because of his by- the minute, multitudinous and by far a singular, complex, but simple love affair with words. His eye captures images that then become fodder for remembering his students words, the understanding it takes to connect, and for his own self-expression, because after all Mr. Clark is our “kinglet”. Kuningilin “kinglet” in Old High German, a name associated with the fable of the election of the “king of birds”. The bird who could fly to the highest altitude would be made king. The eagle outflew all other birds, but he was beaten by a small bird who had hidden in his plumage. Congratulations of your blog, little brown wrenzai.

  7. It was refreshing to read your writing, there are so many little jewels tucked away in there. You really captured what goes on in the mind of someone that expresses themselves creatively/artistically. There’s always that little seed of doubt ever present, but we trudge forward in blind faith, as you put it, “. . . at the storms bidding take careful notes.”

    • Thank you for the excellent words, Daman. I’ll do my best to keep some posts focused on writing and the creative process (or stumbling blocks). I look forward to reading your posts.

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