Bait and Switch

Today I’m grateful for audiobooks.  This one book has been dragging more than any other I’ve listened to in the past, even more than War and Peace.  Despite that, it seriously came in handy this morning.

You’ve had those thoughts that just wouldn’t leave you alone, right?  Whatever it is keeps pestering you and pestering you until you want to think about anything else before that one thing.

And the more you try not to think about whatever it is, the less chance you have of succeeding.

I read somewhere ages ago that the only way to get rid of one train of thought is to pick another.  Your brain won’t politely go blank and wait for something new to think about, you have to give it something to move on to and keep it distracted.  It’s like a puppy.  If you want whatever it’s chewing on, the best tactic is to rub its belly or give it a real toy.  It’ll never even notice that you took your shoe out of its grip.

So this morning, A Prayer for Owen Meany was my bait and switch tool.  I was transported from the same broken record in my head and tunnel traffic to 1960 New England.  It was a happy change, even if the characters in the book aren’t particularly happy.  I would feel guilty about that, but they aren’t real people.

Which brings up another topic.  I wish I cried more in movies.  I know it’s just actors on the screen, so I often find myself having really weird reactions to movie violence.  Once in a while I get all worked up like I’m supposed to (like when I screamed at the TV during The Last King of Scotland), but mostly I just shrug it off.  Those loud thumps that happened during Titanic?  Those are studio sound effects, so I laughed.  Even though laughing at studio effects is totally allowed, I still feel bad about that response to something that’s supposed to represent death.

Someday I’ll be blubbering like a little girl during Milo and Otis, and I’ll feel so much better about myself.  I’m afraid the song Hard-hearted Hannah might just be true.  No cold hands can save me (“Cold hands, warm heart.”).  Alas.

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