When you can't thwim, Think.

What are thoughts? And why do they come into your mind?


Gourav Sahoo



a year ago | 5 min read

That title is a lazy pun. Lazy because I made it. Pun because it's a play on the sentence "If you can't swim, sink." I'd say sorry for the introductory pun, but I'm not. Good puns are their own reword, after all. Sorry, not sorry.

What is the human mind?

We(I, me, and myself) asked this question to 10 random people on the streets. After being asked to stop being jobless (and/or seeking attention) by 9 of them, one person answered that ‘mind’ is the one thing that the person conducting the survey is singularly lacking. Fair.

You see, the human mind is a petty little thing. Ask it a question and you will get an answer. Whether or not that answer is something that is relevant to the question or not is a different story altogether. You might ask your mind if it remembers the formulae that the question paper you're solving in the examination hall or not, and it might well give it to you. It might as well give you an answer that pineapples are sweet, or birds are probably better at physics than you. The point is that the human mind, at the end of the day, is a conscious and petty answering machine. Questions are generated, answers are given, and the answers raise even more follow-up questions.


A page I found by the University of Minnesota defines them as, "Thoughts are mental cognitions—our ideas, opinions, and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us."

That is all well and good; after all, they have a professional image to maintain; and they know what they are talking about. I have to do neither of those, so here is my definition of what I think the word ‘thought’ means: Answers by the mind, to the mind, and for the mind.
Yes. That is lazy writing. And yes, that is a formulaic sentence used by anyone and everyone who wishes to come across as intelligent and knowing (Self roast. Yeah, those are rare).

But don't let that distract you from the fact that I actually put some effort into that. I'll justify my statement. When you wake up in the morning, are you aware of any thoughts in your mind? Nope. What's the first thought that comes to your mind? "What do I have in my schedule today?" That thought is the answer to your mind wondering to itself whether waking up has a purpose or not. Similarly, reading this, you might be thinking to yourself, "Why is this guy wasting my time?" And the answer to that is pineapples.

Question and answer, by the mind, to the mind, and for the mind.

What is the purpose of this article?

I'm sorry for not defining it earlier but had I done that before the earlier paragraph, you would have lost interest because what I am going to write would have sounded like nonsense on a plate.

The purpose of this article is to share some of the questions and answers that my petty answering machine threw out recently - some random thoughts that I found quite interesting. And some that I hope, my friend, you will find interesting as well. And I promise; the answer isn't pineapples.


We interact with a lot of other human beings on a daily basis. It might be as simple as smiling (or frowning) at someone; as brief as greeting an old lady on the bus, commenting about some news to anyone who might lend an ear; or as memorable as watching your best friend make a fool out of themself. Interactions come in a million different flavours, as unique as the people involved in them. This uniqueness is a thing of beauty. To think that all of us have similar brains that serve essentially similar functions in us; only for our thoughts and minds to be so similar yet so different.

Why am I going on about this, you may ask? After all, wasn't I just rambling about pineapples and answering machines a paragraph ago? Indeed, I was, and the reason why I am talking about people now is because I find them so very interesting (in a completely non-serial killer, non-psychopathic manner, I might add). Everyone I have had associations with has mentioned at least once that they often find themselves fascinated by the same. "What makes me like person A but not person B?" "Why are some people such great talkers?" "I lost track of time while talking."

All of them answer the query- "Why are people, people?"

I am not a psychologist, nor am I a person who has pondered for years and years over the secrets of the human mind. Those roles are best reserved for the protagonists or antagonists of crime novels. I am merely a person, much like you. (if you are a shape-shifting alien, this article is irrelevant to you and I delayed your plan to take over Earth by 5 minutes, ha!) I just happen to have too much time on my hands and a mind that never learnt when to stop thinking.

How do people shape thoughts and vice versa?

Thoughts take a variety of shapes and flavours. I broadly categorize them into two categories.

Some thoughts might be about why rabbits aren't pink, or why flowers arent towels. These are thoughts I personally classify as wandering thoughts - they serve no purpose other than just being thoughts. Left unchecked, they can easily clog up and overwhelm your answering machine.

Some thoughts make you consider action. "Why am I still reading this article?" makes you consider stopping reading. (don't) Thoughts like these occupy our minds when we're at work, or we have responsibilities to fulfil.

People shape thoughts as it suits them. Someone with a lot of free time might as well lose themself in the bliss of wandering thoughts until responsibility calls. If you're talking to your boss or partner, wandering thoughts are the last thing you want to risk. If you're with a friend whom you're meeting for the tenth time in a week, you might as well let your thoughts wander while they tell you all about their office drama that you could honestly care less about.


Human interactions are based upon a lot of variables, and not even our ridiculously powerful answering machines can comprehend all of them. At the end of the day, we go to bed with pretty much the same questions as we did the day before, and wake up with the same thoughts. And given how our thoughts reshape and decide almost all the interactions we have, we might as well pay more attention to what answers we get in our minds and what actions we take based upon them. Or else the shape-shifting aliens might as well take over and make the rabbits pink.

The answers sent out by your ridiculously powerful but petty answering machine throughout the day form a virtual sea of thoughts, and it's not easy to navigate those waters. So, out there in the virtual sea, just recall the title of this article: If you can't thwim, think.


Created by

Gourav Sahoo









Related Articles