When the metaphor of our thoughts—as empty as a bird’s path as it cuts through the sky—was introduced to me, my body thrilled. Thoughts actually have no permanence at all. They pop up—from where? Disappear just as abruptly—where do they go? And they leave no trace at all.
Thoughts have plagued and haunted my life. Worries about an imagined, terrible future, anxieties for my disabled son, apprehension about mounting bills, disquiet about the state of the world—all of it, as transparent as a bird’s path. The thoughts could have been about the past rather than the future, but that was not the pattern I acted out.
If these thoughts have zero independent reality, if they are transparent and vanish spontaneously, then in essence, they are meaningless.
Is this so?
My thoughts are valuable, important!
You can assign meaning to them, and then grasp tightly on to that meaning, but I can guarantee you that your—and my—grasping leads to suffering. Those thoughts that bedeviled me, that I agonized over for many decades, were completely unnecessary. Life spilled on without them; ninety-nine percent of the thoughts did not come true; and the one percent that did were only made worse by my assigning ownership to them.
Over the decades, thought patterns created grooves, just like deep frown marks between the eyes. There is a difference, though—the metaphor breaks down. Frown marks remain on the face for life. When I develop disinterest in a thought pattern I’ve carried, the mental groove becomes shallower; eventually it becomes more like a shadow cast on the ground rather than having any true reality. I can still “see” the groove—the tendency that my thought pattern held—but the energy to sink into the groove, to slip in and travel down the familiar path, is gone. Gone!
© Skye Blaine, 2011