Mind Churn

Mind Churn August 26, 2020

Then beside their ships the other nobles of the grand Achaean army slept the whole night long, overcome by sinking sleep; but sweet sleep did not hold Agamemnon son of Atreus, shepherd of the people, as he churned in his mind many things.


A pandemic.

This week maybe there was going to be a hurricane.

Classes to teach, a book to write, a novel to finish, and most important family to love and nourish.

My mind churns.

My usual method of going to sleep is ask Alexa to play “The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes: Volume II” read by the mellifluous Charleton Griffen. Lately, even his dulcet tones (his vocal cords are a complete cast) cannot calm mental churn.

This is not good and, as the wise Homer shows us, can end sleep, produce folly, and cause us to put on a weasel cap. Never put on a weasel cap. 

The weasel cap is the overconfidence of the man who can sleep with surety when he should be awake worrying! He has not done the training, preparing, and learning needed. He is still confident and slaps on his weasel cap: the mark of the man who is confident despite is lack of skill. Agamemnon is not a great ruler, but he does not put on a weasel cap. He knows things are tough, so his mind churns. That disquiet is his fault, this is usually true for all of us, but he needs rest, knowledge, and a plan.

What to do facing mental churn?

Instead, we might look for wise friends and find out what is going on. Agamemnon was not a good king, military leader, or husband. He did know just enough that when he faced mental church, he looked for wiser heads. This was not hard to find as almost any head was wiser. In Book X of Iliad, Homer presents us with this generally foolish ruler facing the end result of his folly. His folks are dying, his cause failing, and his intel spotty. He is unsure what to do. He has mind churn.

If we face the same problem, Home offers some wisdom. Get up. If you cannot sleep, then find your friends and ask for advice. Find the friends who are known to be wise. If you are blessed, then you know someone like Odysseus: a man who can make a way when there is no way. Do not just act or react. Listen. You most probably will find that others can solve the problem better than you: Ajax and Odysseus. Let them do what they can do as you step back, wait, and see.

If Homer is right, and he often is, then mental churn is a sign to look for help. Sadly, the very confusion, tension, tiredness makes seeking help before acting hard to do. We think the churn is the problem and not what causes the churn. A drunk man can sleep, but the world is no better in the morning and usually is worse.

God save me from mind churn.


*From the myst use translation by Carolyn Alexander. Book X 1 and ff.

Homer. The Iliad (p. 197). Ecco. Kindle Edition.



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