I Seldom Pay Much Mind To My Mind

By Jack Canfora

Which is a pity, because as minds go, it’s not totally without merit. It has no sense of direction, is hopeless at spatial relations, knows way too much about The Beatles, and drifts off topic too much for its own good, but I’ve seen worse.

Actually, I’m pretty hungry.

Where was I? However, its worst feature is that it seems to be perpetually in motion, which not only makes a mockery of Newtonian physics (which, to be clear: it’s also no good at), it often devolves into is a discordant jumble of ever-shifting, often irrelevant, and overlapping ideas.


Sometimes, sometimes, my brain has the occasional, what the hell, I’ll be generous with myself this once, “insight.”

Tragically, alas, (I’m trying to bring back “alas.” Also, “anon.” Not much progress so far; I’ll keep you posted) on those rare occasions in which all that merciless self-reflection yields a piece of worthwhile truth to myself about myself, it is usually ignored by the rest of me. What’s the point of any self-knowledge if it is inevitably told by the rest of me, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”?

I understand many of the sources of my personal weaknesses, bad habits, and sundry unflattering traits and thought patterns, but in my experience, knowledge does not equal power. In fact, it inevitably invites self-loathing (which, again, I know, don’t bother pointing it out, I heard it too: that isn’t helpful, either), because I feel too often powerless to reframe any of these things in a way that sticks. I know self-forgiveness is important. After all, as many have observed, if justice were truly meted out in a rigid manner by the universe, we’d all be in serious time-outs.

Despite this, it’s hard at times (today being one such instance) not to view my life as little more than the sum total of my mistakes. At times, I do not extend the same level of empathy to myself as I do to others. At other times, I cut myself way too much slack. To quote a fellow Long Island native, “Do I contradict myself; very well, I contradict myself.” Or another: “You may be right; I may be crazy.” Incidentally, if you had both Walt Whitman and Billy Joel on your Obscure Allusion Bingo cards, congratulations! Message me for your prize!

My heart has blocked my brain on all social media; they communicate solely through one another’s lawyers. As I’m not a wealthy man, those communications rarely extend beyond exchanging holiday cards in which both attorneys inscribe (or more likely, have their paralegals inscribe), at their clients strict instructions, a pithy and apt “F*#k You.”

Psychology and Pharma-psychology have yet to find an effective mediator for the two, despite, let’s just say, varied and copious attempts. I’ve spent so much money on prescriptions, in fact, that Pfizer regularly invites me to their Christmas parties. Let me assure you, as you’d expect with people with a limitless stream of pharmaceuticals, those cats can party. Meditation and Mindfulness training seems potentially promising, but I’ve yet to muster the will to follow through meaningfully (I’m also a nuclear weapons-grade self-sabotager).

For those of you who may have read or remember my few contributions on this post thus far, I try to end them with encouragement and at least a degree of realistic hope. Which, I won’t lie, isn’t something that comes easily to me. Learning some optimism has been a slow, erratic undertaking of mine. I truly believe that optimism comes to some like some are born with a natural gift for music. In terms of optimism, I was born with a tin ear. But I’m practicing hard nonetheless.

Where was I? Oh yes, I’m hungry. Also, ending with optimism. However, there are some days, like today, I can’t quite rise to the occasion. Which I’d argue is OK, too. None of us have it worked out. Growing up, I think I always expected I would reach an age in which suddenly, as if bequeathed to me by a distant relative, a sense of understanding how it all works. I’m embarrassed to say how long it’s taken me to realize that we are all winging it, despite what social media would have you believe, totally winging it.

And, I repeat, that’s actually OK. Otherwise, frankly, among other things, we wouldn’t need art. It would be a pity not to have art. Without suffering, we wouldn’t recognize tenderness for what it is. Our lives are more or less informed by opposition. So yes, we’re all allowed our moments of darkness. Say what you will about darkness, it draws attention the light quite nicely.

At least, that’s what I’d tell a friend feeling the same way I do. Damn. I almost had that half-way optimistic ending. Maybe next time (Ah, maybe that can qualify!).

Follow my groovy (Jesus, who am I, Shaggy from Scooby Doo? Well, I am always hungry. And talk to my dog a lot. Anyway) blog: http://www.thewritingonthepaddedwall.com

Also, follow my on the Twitter and Instagram machines: @jackcanfora

17 thoughts on “I Seldom Pay Much Mind To My Mind

  1. This is SO wonderful! What a brilliant piece of writing that encapsulates my head (and heart) so well… goodness me!

  2. This was a wonderful read! I relate to it all but for the heart and mind part.
    My heart and mind communicate more than you describe yours doing, just the communication is seriously dysfunctional, with my heart manipulating my mind into thinking it agrees with my heart, rationalizing hasty, ill-advised decisions made by my heart as though they were actually logically sound somehow. Sometimes I think it might be better if those 2 parts of me barely communicated with each other, as you described. Lol

    1. Trust me, you know wouldn’t be. Actually, I think we’re describing similar things. Either way, it means we’re not always ruled by what we know we SHOULD be doing or feeling (I know most say there’s no such thing as a wrong feeling; I think sometimes there is). Thank you so much for reading!

  3. Damn, JAck, you need a pizza! That sounds amazing right now: cheesy, salty, comforting. Perhaps you’re in with the within crowd; turning the inner disquiet into a practical and reliable solution. I get constantly hungry when I’m feeling down, resulting in a pint of rum raisin ice becomes empty in front of me, as if by magic. Tonight I’ve got the old movie ‘Cinema Paradiso’ going, with a bowl overly buttered popcorn for dinner. Magic indeed! I feel that it’s good to let your overly energetic brain have its way sometimes, and I enjoy your brain-ramble. Sometimes you might just have to be kind to it though, like wrapping your head in a warm spa towel and go full Shaggy. Sometimes, not all the time, alas. 🙂 Back to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

  4. This post is an interestingly funny twist to a universally profound dilemia. I to have endured those self beatings on several occasions. The only good it seems to do is feed my already low self esteem.

  5. I love this! You’ve managed to share both product and process. By the way, I’ve recently gone all in on “alack” (but that’s just me). When I got to the sentence–I’m paraphrasing–that your life has come to be nothing more than the sum total of your failings, I quietly paused and reflected (meaningfully). (It’s the sort of sentence that pokes the middle-aged man right in his soft spot.) Ouch!

  6. Great post Jack. I tend to think I pay far too much mind to my mind. Not because I think it’s a particularly great mind – probably, if anything, because I don’t trust it. Even the rare useful insight I put under the microscope and examine with great scepticism. Perhaps that’s critical thought gone mad?

  7. Hey Jack,

    I really enjoyed reading this piece. In particular, I loved some of your beautifully-turned phrases like “weapons grade self-sabotager” and “In terms of optimism, I have a tin ear”. That sort of quality is what really makes a blog stand out for me.

    I’ve also been thinking – and writing – a bit about rumination lately, and some of the not altogether nice things I sometimes find myself saying to myself. Quite often, we’d be better off not listening to many of the thoughts we have, but it’s so hard to tune out.

    Btw – I got Billy Joel but not Walt Whitman – ‘Glass Houses’ was a regular on my parents’ turntable, growing up, but Disney was the only Walt we ever saw round our ends.

    Will check out your writing from now on – best of luck with it all!

      1. Yeah, I’m planning a post on rumination on my blog or one of my other channels soon! If you can not listen to yourself all the time, if gives your brain space to rest, and heal!

  8. 1. I fully support the comeback of ‘Alas’. ‘Anon’? Not so much.
    2. You’re a Beatles guy? I knew I liked you!
    3. “You May Be Right” is a song I sing to my son, pretty much on the reg.
    4. This is an honest and lovely piece, my friend. Well done. 🕊

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