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FEBRUARY 8, 2013 8:32AM

The Controlled Mind

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Pinball 1

“Beat me! Beat me!” cried the masochist.

“No!” replied the sadist.

Don’t ask where that came from. “Beat me! Beat me!” cried the masochist.Like a disproportionately high percentage of my thoughts, I couldn’t tell you. I wasn’t thinking of masochism or sadism (who does?). It was just there. It seems that whenever I’m not really concentrating on something specific, like brushing my teeth or writing a book, I have very little control over where my mind goes, or why.

I’ve often said I write these blogs to demonstrate that you and I have a lot more in common than you might think. And yet perhaps I’m deluding myself. Maybe it’s just my attempt to not feel quite so isolated from the rest of humanity as I sometimes do. I can’t imagine that your mind can be quite so chaotic. I always picture everyone else (which of course includes you) as being in far more control of their minds and their lives than I, and find evidence of that fact just about everywhere.

To everyone else—to you, as I imagine you—, the mind is a smooth-running machine: thought A to thought B to thought C. To me, it’s a vast pin-ball machine with me being the little silver ball caroming wildly from one thing to another.

I truly admire those people…no doubt you’re one of them…with almost total control over their minds and their lives; who see an objective at a distance of a year, a day, or an hour, and march straight toward it, totally undeterred by the maelstrom of distractions I find endlessly swirling about me.

I pass people on the street and look at them and know they are not like me. I can clearly see that they know what to do in any given situation. They never make stupid mistakes, or say stupid things they wish they hadn’t. They never get upset by petty or silly things. They have controlled minds, and part of me envies them for it, and part of me is terrified by the idea.

I suspect I associate a controlled mind with a lack of freedom. As annoying as my mental pin-ball game may occasionally be, I also delight in its randomness; in the constant surprises it provides.

The problem is that each of us goes through life locked within ourselves, filtering everything through our own experiences, and reacting according to them because we can only observe others. We cannot be them. We live among five billion other people, yet only have one true point of reference—our own. And we almost never stop to realize that each one of those five billion is also living individually within themselves. So all five billion of us assumes that it is a matter of “me” being here and everyone else being there, sharing some secret bonds “me” cannot understand.

The lack of a controlled mind is one of the reasons this particular “me” gets so little constructive done. I seem incapable of preventing my mind from coming up with out-of-nowhere thoughts. (A case in point: my mind just flashed to a stack of celebrity rag magazines I had the misfortune to thumb through at my part time job, and set me to wondering how or why actresses and models …female models…seem to think that posing with one hand on a hip makes them irresistibly sexy/seductive? Surely there must be a reason, or they wouldn’t do it. A man posed like that would be considered…well, you know. It must be one of those “you’ve got to be straight to understand” things. There are a lot of those.) And, to quote Linda Ellerbee, so it goes.

So, since you have a controlled mind and I do not, I guess we’re not as much alike as I thought.

Or are we?

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (

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open call, thoughts, control

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You are not alone. My mind works like that, too. Which makes me think we are not alone. The value of this piece is to illustrate, for the sake of revealing that we are different, the way our Chitty Chitty Bang Bang minds work for those whose minds are smooth-bored, well oiled, dust free, chrome plated, perfectly tuned 600 horse monsters with Magna Traction.
coincidently I've the May 25-31st 2002 issue of The Economist
right here. The cover is The future of mind control. No headline caps; the full image has a cybor-image with a dial center forehead.
Also, last year I read somewhere that information doubles every
Odd fact: 70 million children and 270 million guns in this country!
Excellent (underread!) writing here, sir!
You give the rest of us too much credit. Or too much blame. It could probably go either way. And that arm thing (as well as crossing one leg in front of the other) is all about looking thinner. We women think way too much about fat arms and thin profiles.