What more essential thing could there be to being you? Your mind is where you do everything that makes you you. Your mind IS you. It’s all of you there is. It’s the part that feels and thinks and learns.
In the timeshare theme, your mind is both the thinking you do, and the time in which you do it.
Imagine that you “sell” a small part of it.
How? Oh, say you hand over a very small part of your mind, just 5 minutes a week, to a Subway sandwich shop. You do this by accepting their discount card, which entitles you to a free sandwich for every ten sandwiches you buy. You get a free sandwich every eleven weeks (or 11 days, if you go every day).
But meanwhile, you also have to do this: Think about that card.
You think about carrying it around in your wallet, making sure you know exactly where it is in there. You have to focus on remembering to pull it out and hand it over to be scanned every time you visit the Subway. You probably spend some time recalling where you are in the count of sandwiches, so you know when the free one is coming up.
But because somewhere up ahead is a “free” sandwich, you also determine, occasionally or frequently, to go to Subway to eat lunch. And you coax friends into coming along with you. “Nah, screw Wendy’s! Let’s go to Subway today. I’ve only got two more before I get a freebie.” If you’re out in a strange part of town when lunchtime rolls around, you might even spend some time locating the nearest Subway, rather than stopping to eat at a more convenient place.
All of those things take a little bit of your time, a little bit of your mind. For the price of a sandwich, you have allowed Subway to own a little bit of you — that little bit, those few minutes, in which you mentally dwell on Subway.
It’s probably lame to even think about this, though, don’t you think? After all, you have a choice in whether to think about Subway or not, and even if it was twelve times that 5 minutes, that’s still only an hour. And hell, you have 168 of those hours in every week.
Besides, you DO get the free sandwich. You’re not really giving Subway your mind, it’s more like … a business deal. You’re trading with them – mind for sandwich. Also besides, they don’t really own that little bit of you. You can take it back if you decide to. Refuse to go to Subway, or even think about Subway. The point is just silly.
But no, it isn’t silly. It’s serious.
First off, there’s the matter of math: You DON’T have 168 hours in a week to consciously, deliberately, use your mind in whatever way you want. Because some of that time is spent on mechanical things, the stuff you have to do to live, and it’s not really available for unique you-and-only-you thinking.
(Besides which, it isn’t just a matter of time. It’s also a matter of uninterrupted time. Sometimes you need a quiet hour or two to think. To focus on one thing without having something outside you barging its way in, interrupting you over and over and over, and demanding you think about IT.)
You sleep. Probably for about 50 of those hours. Even after sleep, you don’t rocket to full zero-to-60 awareness in 5 seconds. It takes a bit. It’s the same with falling asleep: Even if you’re not fully asleep yet, your mind is not exactly available for any serious thinking. You’d have to subtract maybe half an hour on each side of sleep.
There’s the time you spend showering and dressing, the time you spend on preparing and eating breakfast, the time you spend focused on letting out the cat and checking the lawn sprinklers, going to the bathroom, putting a new roll on the toilet paper dispenser, getting down your kid’s Frisbee from the roof, asking your wife if she’s seen your keys, giving directions to the stranger who wandered through your neighborhood, listening to the funny new sound your car’s making, all the distracting stuff of each and every day – countless minutes and hours taken out of each day’s total of hours or minutes of “This is me, thinking deeply.”
Plus there’s all the time where you deliberately surrender your mind to entertainment. Watching TV, listening to music, having a beer or two in the evening, shooting a game of pool with friends, reading the comics, catching the baseball scores, going to a movie. And for guys, at least: All the time you spend, morning, evening and night, thinking about – and occasionally, hopefully, doing! – sex.
The point is, there’s a limited amount of time available for original, creative, YOU thought. For writing your book, composing your opus, thinking your deepest and most original thoughts, coming up with all those surprising insights that color your life in the most positive ways.
It may be that you don’t have a great deal of choice about the time and mind taken up in these mundane daily chores.
But you DO have some choice about how much you lend or give or sell to places like Subway.