She ponders upon a quote from the French philosopher Lacan: “I think where I am not, therefore I am where I do not think.” This has her thinking about thinking and thinking about where this is, where she does not think.Where she does not think, she thinks, she wouldn’t think about where she thinks she is, she wouldn’t think about what she thinks she is, she wouldn’t think about who she thinks she is. According to Lacan, she thinks, she is no-“where,” she is no-“thing,” she is no-“one.” She thinks, “That’s a relief.”
She’s obsessed with multisyllabic words. That is to say, she wishes to speak with multisyllabic words as if they come to her naturally. Naturally, as if her mind were a perennial stream flowing with multisyllabic fish. Her other obsession is metaphor. The more ambiguous the better, but she’s not exactly sure what that means. She likes the way multisyllabic words sound, but she sounds funny saying them, like her voice sounds on her answering machine or, more precisely, how her voice would sound on her answering machine pronouncing multisyllabic words, for example: “Hi, this is incontrovertibly (so-and-so) and I am contemporaneously unavailable to take your call…” She thinks multisyllabic words are easier to write than to speak. It’s as if when she writes she is not this same person who utters words from this mouth. For example, she might write, “Mrs. Dalloway is impetuously impertinent prevaricating in euphemisms to disguise her incongruous equivocations.” That is to say, “Do you think it will ever stop raining?”
When I have thoughts, I will watch them float past like clouds in the sky or leaves in a stream. They will drift by gently, without judgment, without thinking. I will breathe. I’m thinking about clouds, I’m thinking about leaves, I’m thinking about what kind of clouds, what kind of leaves, and are they clouds or leaves, or some of both, and I’m thinking that I’m not supposed to be thinking, and I’m thinking about thinking that I’m not supposed to be thinking, and now I’m judging, and thinking about how I’m always judging and thinking about how I’m now judging about judging and I’m thinking about thinking about judging about judging and I’m thinking about all this thinking about thinking and thinking about judging and judging about thinking about judging when I’m supposed to be watching my thoughts drift by like clouds in the sky or leaves in a stream with no thinking, no judging, and I’m thinking, how do I watch my thoughts drift by without thinking about them, and how would I know if I was thinking or not without thinking?, and I’m thinking about what thoughts I might have that I don’t think about and thinking about thinking about them when I’m not supposed to be thinking at all. But aren’t I supposed to be breathing?
My thoughts now emerge as Facebook status updates. It must be a modern-day mental disorder. Beautiful day for a run underneath photo of park scene with rainbow and dogs. This is my life: I exercise. I spend time with my dogs. I love my dogs. I love nature! I love rainbows! I love my Mom! I have lots of friends! I love my friends! I love my friends’ dogs! I’m in a relationship! I eat healthy food that I make at home! I like cool music! I like fine art! I hate leaf blowers! I know the difference between you’re and your! I read smart books! I quote smart people saying smart things! I go to political rallies! I care about important social justice issues! I care about endangered turtles! And most of all I care about how you see me.
My therapist leans forward in her chair and says, “Your mind inexorably veers towards the negative.” Wow, I think, I love that word, inexorably. It makes me feel special that she uses inexorably in describing me. That I do anything inexorably just sounds smart. But wait. I wonder if she really thinks of me as inexorably anything. What if she said that to make me feel better, to make me feel smart? And why do I feel so proud all of a sudden like my therapist using the word inexorably has anything to do with me? I don’t think I’ve ever even used the word inexorably. I’m sure I’d be afraid to use it even if it came to mind, which it likely would not. If I did use, it I’d probably sound stupid. Out of context I might not even remember what it means. Do I even know? Do I even know what inexorably means? My therapist takes a deep breath and asks, “Did you take in what I just said?”
Lorie Bailey is a native of Portland, Oregon and a recent graduate from Marylhurst University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Her short stories and prose poems explore the nature of the self/selves and the complexities of human relationships with self, with others, and with the planet.
Photo: MidniteSonnet via Flickr Creative Commons License