I think the worst thing about growing up introverted is feeling like there isn’t a single person I can talk to about the deepest, darkest thoughts I have. All I need is one friend who I feel OK with being completely open about. When I was small, I didn’t have Thoughts. But after more life happened, and left me with Thoughts, I realized there was a gap in my life—I hadn’t cultivated a friend who I could talk to about these Thoughts. I had friends in various settings, whom I revealed different parts of myself to, but not a friend with whom I felt I could talk about Thoughts. And when the Thoughts left me desiring a Friend, it was hard to find one on demand.
A word of advice: find a Friend who you can talk to about Thoughts, before you grow up and it becomes harder. All you need is one.
It’s hard to recall states of mind without a prompt. Even when we have a specific memory cupped on the stage inside our head, we fall short of recreating the mind of five years ago. Our minds update, one part at a time, until it is completely renewed, and yet the change is imperceptible, as we feel we are the same person day-to-day.
I’m reminded this every time I read my diary again. I write in stream-of-consciousness; that helps. Had someone just told me to remember the memory, I would have remembered the memory, but not the me that was experiencing it.
The flow of thoughts is simply different from the way my thoughts flow now. There are millions of parameters that make people who they are. It’s impossible to capture the way a person is at a moment in time. There’s a huge gap between the fidelity with which I can see who I was, between just trying to remember, and reading my old diary entries. I can only imagine what the gap is between what the entry captures, and who I actually was.
To me, this is the most valuable thing about keeping a journal. Not the record of events – but to record, as much as possible, a state of mind. Writing is the closest thing we have. Sometimes, words are worth much more than pictures, because in a picture all you see is a smile, not the thoughts behind that smile.
The sky is cloudy. The wind calls. I don a jacket and head outside.
It starts to rain thoughts, big and small. I stand and soak. Others hurry by with large umbrellas. They don’t have time for stray thoughts. A guy grabs them as they come, filling bags and bags of them, but somehow they leak out of their bottoms; he tries grabbing them with his hands, his clothes, his hat, his mouth, like someone who has won 15 seconds in a money machine, his eyes wide and maniacal-veined.
Some thoughts glimmer as they fall, too far to catch. The guy makes a desperate rush for them but trips, and his gathered thoughts spill out and fade. It makes me sad, but I stay; there are enough where I stand.
I walk by the road the way back. There’s a traffic jam, punctuated by honks. The thoughts bounce off steel skeletons and die on the asphalt. Faces look out, distracted.
No one opens their window for the homeless man. He catches thoughts, but he has too many already.
As I arrive on my doorstep, the thought storm subsides. The man with the bags walks by, “nothing again,” he says, “those slippery thoughts, they always get away.”
I open the window, and let the wind whisper in. The thoughts are gone now, but a sticky residue remain on my fingers. They’ll carry me until the thoughts come again.