Due to a recent realignment of my jaw, I now have a point of contact between a lower tooth and an upper tooth that wasn’t there before. What I discovered is the reason why we chew gum. You may think it is because the gum tastes good, but oddly, that is only one of the reasons. Our mouth was designed to chew whatever is in that cavity. No matter what is in my mouth, my brain tells my jaws to masticate. My own tooth seems to be an object to gnash rather than part of my jaw. No matter what is on my mind, I can’t stop thinking about it. We even have phrases about this. “Chew on that for a while.”
While talking to a friend recently, we got onto the subject of his addiction. We discussed why it is that he uses; the chat quickly turned to a completely different topic. Well, the addictive reasons were different in my mind. In his mind, addiction was very strongly connected to something else. He said, “My dad used to freak out when we tried to talk about drugs.” He could not get off the subject of his father long enough to return to the subject at hand – his addiction. These two are connected but separate topics.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Every time I go to the court of ME, I find myself not guilty. I have the same problem. My brain, like most humans, connects things that are invisible to an outside observer. A fragrance can remind me of a date with my wife in 1985. The way someone looks at me can recall a tough incident with a friend who had lost trust in our relationship. The fragrance doesn’t know where my thoughts went. The person staring doesn’t know about my other relationship.
I believe a lot of the confusion in life comes from the too-many connections our brain attaches to encounters and articles that have something to do with each other; things unique to our experiences. More is happening in our mind than is happening in this moment’s reality. If we could just work on one thing at a time, life would be easier.
As an example, I wake up in the morning, realizing it is going to be a hot day. I find my dog is not in the house. Where has he run off? What will I have for breakfast? Is it on my new diet? I need to leave for work! The last time I was late for work, I got into real trouble. While I am trying to decide whether to look for the dog, eat breakfast, or go to work, a friend calls to talk about yesterday’s baseball game we watched on ESPN. This is just the stuff that is ACTUALLY happening. In my brain, there are a hundred connections between these six thoughts and other things from the past. No wonder we suffer from chronic confusion.
History records that Benjamin Franklin spent two hours each evening reviewing his actions of the day and considering how he could have done things better. I believe he did this one event at a time, one conversation at a time, with one of his reactions at a time.
The hard thing for me is to be objective about my thoughts and somehow disconnect the context. Just looking at the action and erasing the surrounding senses is difficult enough. This will allow me to focus on what is most important. I must do this on purpose. I am not Benjamin Franklin, but maybe I can do it if I try.
By Bob B
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