Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Positive Thinking

You might think I'm joking when I say that yesterday I had the positive thought that my negative thinking should bring positive results. If my thoughts can change the world, as like everyone else I sometimes think, why can't they change the world in that way?

Why shouldn't the world cure us, not punish us? If the world is our mirror, as people like to say, a mirror need not be so simple as to give back exactly what we give. Doesn't in fact the real mirror give us back to ourselves reversed? And can't my thought that I expect positive results from my negative thinking itself bring a positive result? Why not? Here is the list of yesterday's negative thoughts:

1. When I left or arrived at the usual cafe, I seemed to see my annulled wife pass me by on her morning run. It'd happened many times, and I couldn't decide if I recognized her or not.

2. I'd watched a movie, Elogy to Love, from Godard my favorite director and it was just about his best and I was not moved.

3. My watch stopped working!

And today, when I returned the movie and left the store burdened with these negative thoughts and hoping they'd turn out well, I saw the encouraging sight of cafe tables on the sidewalk and some sort of life going on there. I decided to walk over, that is, to bring my negative thoughts over. As I crossed the street I could see a kid looking my way, and as I went on he didn't take his eyes off me. So when I got there I stopped and said,

- Hello, I suppose I should sit down?"

- Why not?

- You're ready for conversation.

- Yes. I live for conversation. Among other things.

- Like what? You're a student? What do you study?

- Philosophy and Physics.

- In what relation?

- That of mind to body.

He says he does Yoga three to four hours every day. He practices Lucid Dreaming. He sees his mind sending waves which the world sends back. Negative thinking brings negative events, positive brings positive. He can make anything he wants happen.

- Well, yoga exercise produces good thoughts and good feeling, one leading to another. I can go along with that.

- It's the only thing that really makes me happy.

- But how exactly good thoughts change the physical world I am not so sure about. How do you test your belief that thoughts can bring physical results? I mean change out in the world, not merely in your own body. Are you sure it is not a myth? You know what Santayana wrote about myth? A myth treats thoughts which are invisable like visable things.

When we think about a relation of things we see to things we see, we can tell the story of how we investigated it: we moved our eyes and hands over the surfaces of a table, then we learned to call and see it as a table. But when we are relating thoughts to things, we can't describe the connection. We may never have looked at before or touched the part of the world doing the responding. You say positive thinking brings positive results, but you can't tell a story of how you came to know this, not in the way you tell the story of how you learned what a table was, not in the way you do yoga exercises and you in your own body feel better. The best you can do is look for a regular result, first the positive thought then the world's positive response. Have you done the required testing and exploration?

- Yes.

- How?

- The lucid dreaming. What I dream comes about.

- Sometimes? Always? Like you see a table every time you move your eyes and hands over it? Works every time? You know that?

- Yes.

- You know, I have just got sadder from having this conversation, I've one more negative thought, doubt about the truth of what you're telling me.

The student excuses himself, says it's time for him to go. I say, you know best. I hope the best from my negativity.

And about my other negative thoughts, failing to recognize the annulled wife, failing to appreciate the great movie? I'm working on it.

There's a quotation in the movie from a I suppose famous writer. It goes something like this. If you can see the city from here in this spot it is about to rain. If you can't see the city, it is raining. The moral of the story: it rains.

It is a sad thing not to know your annulled wife when you see her, not to like your favorite director's best movie when you watch it for the first time. But isn't it a much more beautiful world, this one in which our failure does us as much good or more than our success? If it were true that only our positive thoughts produced positive results, then we would always have to think positively. Think about that. It isn't a positive thought for me to be obliged always have to have positive thoughts. I don't want the world to work like that. It's depressing. It makes me a slave to the world's mirroring process.

Instead, it gives me hope that I can't decide whether I recognize my annulled wife, and that I don't like my favorite kind of movie, because it means the world is mysterious and I am not tied to the task of producing echoes of my thought in the world.

My hope is only really fulfilled when the positive result I don't expect happens.

So what happened as a result of this day's negative thoughts? The whole time we were talking I was holding my broken watch in my hand. Walking away I looked down: the watch was working.