‘Passing thought’

To all humankind besides, Tess was only a passing thought. Even to friends she was no more than a frequently passing thought.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Ever wondered what other people think about you? Or who thinks about you? Or how often? It’s not really a profitable use of time, but it’s natural to wonder about it. Something to do with the philosophy of self, identity, and interacting consciousnesses. Because we think about other people randomly, often people from our past that we haven’t been in contact with for years, maybe people we never even got to know well or at all. And sometimes, you wonder whose consciousness you are in under that category.

An old adage says if your ears are ringing, someone is talking about you. Or if you dream about someone, they’re thinking about you. It’s interesting that theories about intersecting consciousnesses have been around for so long. Because one of the great unknowns that we live beside every day is the conscious and subconscious minds of the sentients around us. The neighbour. The coworker. The cashier. Even our own friends and family. Because though we might seem to or actually know their minds inasmuch as we have observed their behaviour or they have told us what they’re thinking, there’s no way of proving our observations or their communications are true or real. Yet, we have to respond as if they are. Because if you take your scepticism too far, you end up in a bottomless pit of paralyzing doubt and solipsism that results in you having little participation in or connection to the real (or the perceivable) world.

From Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Before this post gets too meta, I should just say that, being a frequently passing thought in someone’s mind shouldn’t be as meaningless and existential as Hardy’s tragic heroine thinks it is. Isn’t it saying something that there are people who think about you often? It means you’ve made an impact, a wave, a mark on the world around you through your interactions with other people, good or bad. Philosophically speaking, you are the cause of an effect.

I think about some people as passing thoughts, and every time I do, I relive the feeling of that person—their warmth, their humour, their kindness—or whatever they made me feel—valued, heard, respected. Of course, not everyone who crosses my mind has such a positive impact. But then, what kind of impact have I made on people? What do they feel when they think about me? It’s a good reminder to be conscious of how I come across.

There’s a saying that people may forget what you’ve said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. So how do you make people feel when you cross their mind, frequently or otherwise?

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