“Sometimes we have thoughts that even we don’t understand. Thoughts that aren’t even true—that aren’t really how we feel—but they’re running through our heads anyway because they’re interesting to think about.
If you could hear other people’s thoughts, you’d overhear things that are true as well as things that are completely random. And you wouldn’t know one from the other. It’d drive you insane. What’s true? What’s not? A million ideas, but what do they mean?”– Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why
And this is why I have yet to find a book where mind-reading is actually a thing that works. Because since when does anyone’s mind function in a straight-enough line to be scrawled on paper? Our minds are a hundred layers of floating thoughts that finish each others—sandwiches.
Writing is inherently organized thinking. If I’m to enter someone else’s stream of consciousness, I don’t expect neat italics and periods and since when is there barely a comma and music. Always music. Our minds are involved in keeping afloat the threads of our present, past, and future lives.
In the back I’ve got my to-do list, with checkboxes and since it’s a cluttered mess, the “check the milk” and “get eggs” are separated by the specific: “Make your bed” and the duh: “READ MORE”. There’s the dull thump of an aching hip that could provide an excuse to not go running today, but tied around that bass line is the acknowledgement that I’ve been sucking in my stomach all morning because I feel fat today. I’ve got something that almost feels like a headache but I only notice it when the gnat in my office makes another run at my open mouth and I try to frighten him away with my nose. The phone rings, and I notice eight different things and latch on to the one that is shiniest, despite its total irrelevance to the caller id that flashes across the screen.
Since when is any of that capturable in a few italics? I need to understand if you know the way a mind reads things in color, because your smile is like my mother’s Black-eyed Susan’s, and while I couldn’t tell you the colors of every pen on my desk, I know exactly why I picked them because my brain responds to them the same way it does when I see poppies in the desert. I know when I see freckles I think of hay bales and the night we slept out on the trampoline, and lipstick is the cue for John Michael Montgomery to begin his Grundy County Auction. Except I woke up to Calvin Harris this morning, so right now you’ll smell popcorn and cut grass if you tried to read my thoughts.
And then there’s the tiny—a negotiable adjective, but the one I prefer—corner of darkness that I associate with Beethoven (who always makes me cry) and the day as a teenager when I was ashamed to admit that the Phantom of the Opera scared me. It’s the corner where I’ve stashed everything I don’t want others to know, and yet it’s a very vocal corner because our minds are forever running out of neat boxes to fit things in and the string and tape and scissors for closing them disappear like my favorite socks in the laundry. But that strange conglomerate is also, I wonder, I think, maybe, where my bravery comes from—one part stupidity, one part honesty, and most parts because I didn’t take the time to think about it first because analyzing my courage means analyzing the reasons I am a coward.
And that’s just me. Try writing your thoughts. Be honest. If they don’t scare you, you haven’t been honest.