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Friday, December 6, 2013

Journeys are the midwives of thought

(part of my Sydney trip 1st - 3rd December 2013;
stay tuned for more)


Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship, train or bus. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of your eye and the thoughts you are able to have in your head: large thoughts require large views, new thoughts new places.

Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape. The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is supposed to do. The task can be as paralysing as having to tell a joke on demand. Thinking improves when parts of the mind are given other tasks, are charged with listening to music or following a line of trees. The music or the view distracts for a time that nervous, censorious, practical part of the mind which is inclined to shut down when it notices something difficult emerging in consciousness and which runs scared of memories, longings, introspective or original ideas and prefers instead the administrative and the impersonal.

And so, for six hours from Batemans Bay to Sydney and for another six hours from Sydney back to Batemans Bay, I sat thinking and every time the mind went blank, having hit on a difficult idea, the flow of my consciousness was assisted by the possibility of looking out of the window, locking on to an object and following it for a few seconds, until a new coil of thought was ready to form and unravel without pressure.

At the end of my hours of bus-dreaming, I felt I had been returned to myself - that is, brought back into contact with emotions and ideas of importance to me.