I can't remember who said it first, my brother or Mrs. Holland, but I know that I heard it from each in the same year.
"Follow a thought to it's end."
For years, I've battled between trying to do this and trying to avoid doing this. It's not an easy thing to do. And once you begin down that path, my friend, you may soon find yourself sitting smack dab in the middle of madness -- what once was a scenic dirt road lined with daffodils and marigolds becomes a cave filled with a murder of crows.
The Zen Koans tell us to be aware of the universe as we take a bite of morning cereal. I'd like to do this. But I have to distract myself with reading material while on the toilet or nothing happens.
What's the secret? Where do the roads, distraction and focus, meet? Do they?
I think they do. Where? I don't know.
But here is another thing: I have a close friend whose former therapist told her that "all we have to do is diagnose our problem; awareness is healing." I'm misquoting, but the point is to be aware.
I think this, too, can backfire. Too much navel contemplation puts you back in the cave with the crows or in Nietzsche's abyss.
Can you see that I'm attempting to follow a thought to its end but keep getting caught on the detours? Or am I gaining ground?
This is what I think: I think it's all true. I think you have to observe the navel and you have to escape into movies. You have to hold doggedly to that damn idea till your brain explodes and you figure it out; and you have to, consciously or unconsciously, change channels on the radio till your wife punches you in the face.
I haven't figured out how to do both at once, yet. But I will. For now I'm still working on the sound of one hand clapping.