Website owner: James Miller
The mind is capable of different types of mental activity. One is the activity represented by such words as "dreaming", "daydreaming", "fantasizing", "musing", "reminiscing, etc.. Another activity is logical in nature and is represented by such words as "thinking", "cogitating", "reflecting", "analyzing", etc.. It is the nature of dreaming to occupy itself with things like mental imagery, sensation, feeling, beauty, atmosphere, form, etc.. It is closely related to art and music and probably represents the mind of the artist or musician. In contrast to the activity of thinking it is very feeling, impression and imagination oriented. Thinking is very prosaic, unfeeling and unimaginative in its basic nature. One reason why these two types of mental activity are of interest to me is that when I was young (up to the age of perhaps 13 or 14) my mind tended to be a "dreaming" type mind in the extreme. Now it is a "thinking" type mind in the extreme. When I was younger I tended to be of the opinion that words were really of little value, that the really important and deep things of life just can't be described with words. I felt this way because it really is difficult or impossible to put things like sensation, feeling, beauty, music, etc. into words (they are just apart from the world of words). It is interesting to note how my mind happened to go from one extreme to the other. It happened in high school when I first started encountering subjects like algebra, physics, chemistry and other subjects in the fields of mathematics and physical science that called for logical thought. In order to do well in them I discovered I had to suppress my inclination to dream. As I applied myself to the study of mathematics, physics, etc. the dreaming mind was gradually replaced by a thinking mind --- a mind that was objective, emotionless, calculating, logical and factual. Now I never dream. I think, figure, reflect, analyze and consider but never drift off into real dreams and fantasy. I wouldn't be able to if I wanted to. Something prevents it. It is as if I have no imagination anymore. There are other types of mental activity besides dreaming and thinking. One such activity is reading. The mind can perform only one of these mental activities at a time. It cannot perform two of the activities simultaneously. If it is reading it cannot, at the same time, be dreaming. If it is reading it cannot, at the same time, be off engaged in abstract thought and reflection. Any thinking you do while you are reading must be limited to the material you are reading. You cannot allow your mind to wander off on a tangent. One of the big problems I had in my high school years was the tendency for my mind to wander when I was reading. This was especially true in studying physics. So many questions would occur to me as I was reading in physics and my mind would tend to wander off in pursuit of those questions. In addition my mind had a strong natural inclination toward either dreaming or abstract thought. It much preferred those activities to the activity of reading. Dreaming and abstract thought had a lure for me that reading didn't possess. In fact, it didn't really care much for reading. Keeping my mind on what I was reading was a difficult struggle in high school. For a long time my mind would tend to drift off into dreaming or abstract thought whenever I was supposed to be studying. Forcing myself to concentrate required a lot of self-discipline that I often didn't have. I would read a sentence or two and my mind would drop out. After awhile I would catch myself and realize I was dreaming and decide I had better get back to work. Then I would read another sentence or two and my mind would drop out again! What a time I did have! Nov 1981 More from SolitaryRoad.com:
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