Monday, February 2, 2009

Blank Slate

[last night, in bed, just before midnight]

Me: What are you thinking?

JP: Nothing.

Me: Nothing? You can't think nothing, there has to be something in your head.

JP: Nope. Nothing.

Me: I don't understand. Do you just not want to tell me?

JP: What? No, I really wasn't thinking anything.

Me: I don't think that's possible. You have to think about something.

JP: I don't.

[a few minutes of silence, JP lapses into sleep, grateful that I've decided to let it go, but he should really know me better than that]

Me: Okay, let's just say hypothetically that it is possible to think of nothing. Is your mind blank by default and you have to add thoughts to it or do you have to clear your mind in order to achieve nothingness?

JP, muttering sleepily: What? Are we still talking?

Me: Yes! I need to understand.

JP: I don't know... I guess I just stop thinking and it goes blank.

Me: But HOW, how do you do that?

JP: I just stop.

Me: Impossible. Doesn't something else immediately pop up? I think I have about 100 things on my mind at once, if one were to go away 10 more would take its place- there's never just nothing. I can't even pray or meditate without mentally going through my to-do list or grocery list or list of things I need to remind you to do, and even if I can let go of those I'll jump to planning out the floor plan of my dream home or wondering why the woman in front of me wore those shoes with that dress. How can you just clear all that?

[Silence. I suspect he's fallen back asleep. I firmly but lovingly knock my shoulder into his side to reengage him in the conversation.]

JP: What?! I don't know.

Me: That's not helpful.

JP: You should try it- just clear your head and fall asleep. Like this...

Me: I HAVE TRIED IT- it doesn't work. This is why I lie in bed awake for hours at night, I can't turn it off.

JP, mumbling and borderline exasperated: So I noticed.


Me: It's a good thing you love me, huh?

JP: I was just thinking that.

Me: Well at least you're thinking something.


  1. According to Eckhart Tolle, JP's got the right idea! Wish I could do the same.

  2. I e-mailed this to my husband. This is an exact replica of our nightly conversations. Thanks for the great laugh.

  3. Ryan can do the same thing! It's maddening! I'm sure it is also maddening to him that right in the middle of a movie I say things like "Don't let me forget to get the dry cleaning on the way out tomorrow morning." I am more like you.

  4. My wife and I have have had the same conversation many times.

  5. I've had this EXACT conversation with my husband. Maybe it's a male thing? I have no idea how there can be no thoughts in their minds before sleep. I can't banish thoughts from my mind! In fact, when I try, I end up thinking about how I can't do it which leads to thinking about a zillion other things.

  6. If you ever wondered if you are a litigator or a corporate attorney, this conversation may be the key to an answer.... :)

  7. *snort*

    You know only a woman would have this conversation with somebody else, right? Just thought I'd share.

  8. That was totally hysterical! Thanks for sharing.

    Melanie K.

  9. Hahah... now I think about my to-do lists before I fall asleep and while I feed the baby during the night... I can't even imagine being able to just fall asleep right when I lie down.

  10. Maybe you should take up yoga.

  11. ha ha! funny. When I'm having a hard time sleeping, I try to clear my head but it really us impossible!

  12. After reading all these comments from women all claiming similar conversations with their husbands, it only confirms for my mind that in our relationship, my fiance is the woman and I am the man. I fall asleep in seconds. He lies awake just thinking for hours. I'll never understand it.

  13. We have had this EXACT same coversation at my house hundreds of times! It must be a guy thing...this ability to think nothing! I don't get it!

  14. These men? They are LIARS, that's what I think! They're just thinking something that will get them in trouble, that's all. How can there not be something going on in there??

    Although, if there's really not, that does explain a few things.

  15. Matt is going to laugh really hard when he reads this post. :) I also automatically think he's thinking something secret.

  16. I can't do it, but neither can my husband. His mind will go back to work if there is nothing else he is doing at that moment. He can "escape" with TV or video games but that is it. My mind is always racing and it seems to be always about nothing important. I can't even totally relax during a massage and it kills me!

  17. LOL. It is this part of men that completely confounds me. My brain never, ever, EVER stops racing.

  18. LL, you HAVE to watch this -- Men's brains explained.

  19. I can't tell you how many times I've had that exact conversation. How frustrating is it when he just turns over and falls asleep, and you're left there with your mind racing. It just doesn't seem fair.