Friday, January 11, 2008

thought: life and thinking

Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

I have often wondered what we would look like if what we thought were somehow visible on our face. . . . In a way, though, it is. After years of thinking ugly thoughts, does it not show in the habitual scowl or snarl lines some people seem to wear?

Sorry - don't mean to make a political statement here, but hers was the easiest scowley face to find. . . .

Hillary doesn't look so bad when she smiles.

But you can still see those scowl marks in between her brows.

Then there are others who make you feel real friendly before they've ever said a word. I think it's the smile lines.

Of course, it's not easy to get a picture of someone who has laugh lines when they're not actually smiling. . . .

OK - so that's how we hold our faces. Or how we translate emotion into physical experience: tight-shouldered tension, sweaty nervousness, the tingle and flush of attraction. . . .

How about the content of our thoughts? What difference between - say - the one who thinks of nothing but the details of his next gourmand feast, and the one who dwells on how best to feed and clothe the poor and hungry?

Or the one who is obsessed with what she looks like, versus the one obsessed with her garden? Or his car? Her music? His stockmarket portfolio? Her track record?

Not to mention things like war, peace, education, criminal law, ecology, animal welfare, politics, God. . . .

Who knew "life" could be so complicated?


Lee Anne said...

I must say that I thought of your post while I was watching Persuasion with all it's close shots of Anne Elliot's face.

prophet said...

I'm going to take that as a big compliment, Lee Anne! To be thought of even in the same week as Jane Austen is way good - all the way around - no questions about it. Thank you! grin.

I remember once thinking what life would be like if, for example, the fact of physical attraction were blatant in a woman by, perhaps, swelling breasts (on an otherwise flat chest). . . . or if "sin" were visible as blue spots on the skin.

Pinocchio-like, I guess. Pinocchio ran off in shame. But the situation is trickier when we start seeing others exhibiting the same 'shamed' condition as ourselves. It's amazing what we can learn to overlook.

Always a pleasure to toss thoughts around with you, Lee Anne!