Seth Brown | The Pun Also Rises: Alone with my thoughts

What do Marcus Aurelius, Rene Descartes, and John Coltrane have in common?

They've all shared their Meditations.

It therefore follows that meditations can include reflections on personal morality, exploration of the nature of god, and all that jazz. Merriam-Webster defines meditation as "a discourse intended to express its author's reflections or to guide others in contemplation," or "the act or process of engaging in contemplation or reflection, or engaging in mental exercise for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness." I, a less precise individual than either Merriam or Webster, define mediation as "sitting and thinking."

Sitting and thinking is a thing that most of us do surprisingly little of these days, or at least, the combined activity. Certainly we do plenty of sitting. I spend the vast majority of my day seated at my desk, mainly because it would be weird if I spent my day seated at your desk. But that time is not meditative, because it does not really involve a lot of thinking. Usually if I am at my desk I am looking at Facebook and Twitter, which is the opposite of thinking.

At the very least, it's fair to say that it's not sitting alone reflecting on my own thoughts, because I'm scrolling through an endless feed of other people's thoughts. And while my synapses may technically be firing in response to the things I read, it's rare that I leave myself sufficient time to meditate over what I think, because I'm too busy scrolling and reading the next thing. Social media is an ceaseless torrent of input, and to sit and think properly, you need to turn off the input for a little while so your brain can do something with the information it already has, rather than just processing new information

So if not at your desk, where do you sit and think? It depends on the context in which the question is asked. For example, if Sean Connery asked me in his trademark Scottish accent, I'd probably answer "the toilet." But even this isn't quite true in reality; many people these days look at their phone or iPad while on the toilet, just as they do while riding a bus. Regardless of where we are sitting down, we tend not to want to be bored, so we have a screen giving us constant input — even while we're producing output.

The result is that we don't take a lot of time for reflection these days, because we're not forced to. And while this problem didn't just appear recently — certainly people have been reading books and listening to radios instead of sitting and thinking for many decades — today's world has made it easier than ever to be constantly entertained by something outside of your own brain. Which is a good thing insofar as boredom is now almost entirely a problem of the past, thanks to an infinity of readily-accessible media of all types at our fingertips. Anyone with a library card and internet connection who cannot entertain themselves may need constant supervision.

But the downside is that we are unpracticed in sitting and thinking, and may find it difficult *not* to immediately occupy ourselves, rather than to give our brains some space to think. I required a quieting of input to gather these thoughts and share them with you, and perhaps that will inspire you to ignore me and everyone else for ten minutes and gather your own thoughts.

If that doesn't work, you can always gather someone else's on Facebook.

Seth Brown is an award-winning humor writer, the author of "From God To Verse," and clearly and distinctly perceives everything he says to be true. His website is


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