Thought Snare

Yesterday, an interesting thought popped into my head. As I rolled it over in my mind a little, a parallel thought emerged (as it frequently does): “this will be a good blog post.”

That sort of let me pause my thinking on the topic; I often do my best thinking here in this space, exploring the topic through words as I write them. Letting the natural shape of things appear as I grapple with the implications from the outside.

And so I paused my thinking. And also – since I was in the middle of something else that demanded both my mental attention and the physical use of my hands at the time – completely missed writing it down and have thus forgotten it.

It will come to me, I’m sure. Most such thoughts do return to me because they were the natural result of the things I encounter or engage with, and I’m sure those stimuli will repeat. But until then it will gnaw at me.

Oh! It worked. Writing that worked, the thought returned to me. Ha! I knew that would work. I could delete the above paragraphs now that I’ve remembered the topic. But I think I’ll just go from here, and be amused later when I read this.

Actual Topic: Why It Gets Harder to Form Meaningful Bonds and Relationships with People and Concepts as You Age

So, you’ve got this plank of wood. It’s solid; it has no holes in it. That’s you. When something new enters your life, it cuts a hole in that plank of wood in its own shape, and then fills it. So your first best friend or your first favorite hobby is a circle, let’s say. It cuts a circle-shaped hole and then fills it, occupying that part of your life. Your life still feels whole.

But then let’s say over time, your relationship with that concept fades. The best friend moves away or you lose interest in the hobby. So you look for something new – and you find it! A new friend, a new interest, etc. But that new thing is a triangle, not a circle. It’s different. So it won’t exactly fit in the circle hole that’s already there. You have to cut the shape out a little differently for the triangle to fit. It fills most of the gap, but not perfectly. Maybe you don’t even notice at first.

But this happens again and again and again. Each new shape takes a new chunk out of the plank, or it just fits loosely into the jagged hole already there but doesn’t plug it at all. Maybe you get more and more picky, trying to find things that are exactly the shape of the messy space you’re trying to fill, but no such natural shape exists. Maybe you try to force other things to become that shape, but that never works. And so with each new thing, it becomes harder and harder to meaningfully feel whole.

A cynical person would say that the answer is to simply leave your plank of wood intact from the beginning. Don’t cut holes in it at all. But that seems like a sad way to live. No, I think the better solution is to find a way to repair the wood – or even be something less immutable, more repairable than “wood” to begin with. I’m just not sure how to do that.

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