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February 15, 2010

14

The curse of useless thoughts

by quaesitor

Am I the only one to suffer from this?

There’s a soft furnishings shop that I walk past several times a week. And every time I do this, precisely the same thought passes through my head. Without fail, I cast my mind back to those first few weeks after returning to London from Kampala, during which we had to get a whole load of stuff for the flat. Because we needed some cushions to put into our lovely Ugandan cushion covers, we went into that soft furnishings shop. I’ve never been in since, but our cushion purchase was entirely successful, I’m pleased to say.

Now, it’s not a particularly happy memory – not sure if buying cushions ever could be – but it’s certainly not traumatic either. It just is. Neither one thing nor the other.

It would be fine – if I didn’t have the same blasted thought EVERY time I walk past. It’s like my brain goes onto total – and what’s worse, every time I then ask myself, “why don’t I have a different thought at this point on the street?” Which, of course, has itself become a repetitive thought as well.

These thoughts are, for want of a better word, useless. They serve no purpose. And yet I have them several times a month.

And do you know what the worst thing about all this is now? I realise that every time I walk past, I’ll think back to my 2005 cushion-buying caper, then wonder why I can’t seem to shift my thought-processes there, and THEN contemplate the fact that it led to the writing of this post.

Do I need help?

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Feb 15 2010

    And all this time I thought you were some frickin’ genius – no, not just a genius, a HOLY genius. Life is full of disappointment.

    jk, jk. happens to me all the time.

    from the sis ‘n law.

    Reply
  2. Feb 15 2010

    what hope indeed.
    you’re a jolly good laugh, anyways, and I reckon that counts for a lot.

    Reply
  3. Feb 15 2010

    This is nice. the funny thing is that during the so many times when our mind wonder in totally useless thoughts ( your words) someone will ask you : what are you thinking? Expecting a deep, life changing ideas. I think it will be great to refer to your blog for details.

    Reply
  4. Feb 15 2010

    Yes, happens to me all the time. Every time I unload the dishwasher I hear my mother saying ‘If you put all the forks together in the same bit of the basket, it is quicker to put them away.’ After thinking this several hundred times, I worked out that the effort of sorting dirty cutlery into different compartments is even more than the effort of sorting the clean cutlery, so it doesn’t bother me any more..!

    I have found a way of making use of this. Why not use these moments as prompts:
    . use it as part of a pattern of prayer, thanking God for your safe return from Kampala. I’m sure God does not tire of hearing this.
    . intercede for those too poor to have cushions
    . pray for the cushion seller, that you might have a further conversation and share faith.
    . ask whether this memory is a ‘kairos’ moment, when God is nudging you about something (see Mike Breen’s Choosing to Learn from Life)

    This probably all sounds a bit hyper-spiritual, but there is a serious issue here about weaving prayer into the fabric of our lives, especially for those of us who don’t find the evangelical tradition of Quiet Time as helpful as we are supposed to…

    Reply
    • Feb 15 2010

      some great advice there Ian. am always banging on about breaking down false sacred-secular divides.
      though i suspect what’s going to happen now, as i pass this wretched shop, is that I go through the same precesses as before, but now add in thoughts about the things I really should be praying about… instead of actually praying

      Reply
  5. Feb 15 2010

    I find it interesting to observe how evangelical piety, in an attempt to reinforce the ‘sacred’ bit, ends up reinforcing this divide…both at a personal and a corporate level…

    Reply
  6. Nick
    Feb 16 2010

    It’s perfectly normal, Mark. We all know how you feel! But when one of the cushions winks at you, that’s when you need to see someone …

    Reply
  7. Ros
    Feb 16 2010

    Every time I buy butter, I always choose Country Life because about 30 years ago it was advertised with the slogan ‘You can’t put a better bit of butter on your knife.’ And every time I buy it, I have the jingle in my head.

    What’s worse, is that every time I see the self-service tills in supermarkets, I find myself thinking, ‘I don’t want to serve, but to be served.’ And then thinking that this is a bad thing to think, in general (though I think in the context it’s not morally wrong), and then I’m in this complex ethical morass and paralysed from doing my shopping.

    It’s good to get that off my chest! Maybe now I’ll be freed from the burden of these thoughts.

    Reply
    • Feb 17 2010

      here’s hoping that you don’t go through a brain loop about writing a comment to this post, Ros

      Reply
  8. Mar 2 2010

    I have this sometimes. When I was at University I’d think the same thought as I went round the same corner on my bike. And you know what? I can’t remember what that actual thought was. I have a thought when I get to a particular point on the way home these days, but it’s only triggered by a smell of cooking, otherwise I just don’t think it!

    When I have a thought a second time in the same place I try very hard not to think it, and it seems to work! I have a thought about a dead friend when I load the washing machine and I think of the family he left behind. That’s not a bad thing.

    Reply

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