I don’t really know what the optimum conditions for reflective thought are but I feel that right here, right now, in this chair, before this screen, they are unmet. I had originally intended to reflect on the year gone by and how it might determine the year to come but, in this moment, sitting at the foot of it, it is too overwhelming a project for this Sunday morning.
Reflection requires an object, a specific presence of mind and fastidious attention to detail. The immaterial must be projected out into three-dimensional space, turned in one’s hand and held up to the stark electric light, set down again and scrutinized in relation to something or someone else. I cannot focus on a single thought long enough to even name it.
And so I find myself thinking about thinking. And the moment I catch myself caught in the convolution the flow is gone. My stream of consciousness abruptly halts and rewinds itself at the moment I become conscious of the stream. When I try to examine a thought, the act of examination itself becomes the thought and is quickly, sequentially, displaced by the recognition that I am ‘thinking my thoughts away’ by the very act of attempting to examine them. They simultaneously go somewhere and nowhere, adrift in the shallows.
Ideas are contingent like everything else. Situational. Circumstantial. Fortuitous. Elusive and so often impossible to articulate. Might some ideas actually be impossible for me to imagine? Precluded by happenstance, place, gender, class, bad luck? What thoughts am I unaware that I’ve never had and may never have? Unanswerable conundrums.
Inspiration is fleeting and unreliable. And reflection, by a certain sort of definition, casts light back from a surface without ever absorbing it. Words just empty echoes, saying absolutely nothing at all.