Note: A video version of this article is available on YouTube.
I was walking along a narrow, winding country lane when I heard the distinctive buzz of a 4-wheeled ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle). A moment later it streaked by me. It was racing along at nearly four times the speed limit of 15 MPH. The rider, who was in his early 20's, must have had the youthful conviction that he was indestructible, because he was standing up on the stirrups and was not wearing any safety equipment — not even a helmet.
As I watched him disappear around a blind corner I muttered, “Idiot!”
It suddenly dawned on me that it wasn't doing him any good to identify him as an idiot. In fact, it wasn't doing anybody any good — it certainly didn't help me. Hadn't I already seen that he was behaving unwisely? If so, who was I informing of his poor judgment? Why work myself up when he was already gone?
All good questions, but not easily answered. This kind of habitual brain noise afflicts most people. If its source and destination were obvious, wouldn't people just turn it off? After all, it wastes energy and increases stress.
As the sound of the ATV faded into the distance, and the last echo rebounded off the mountains, I became annoyed at my mind. In particular, I took exception with the part of my mind that wanted to be informed whenever an idiot was spotted.
Frustrated with my own stupidity, I conducted an impromptu experiment. One part of my mind said to another, “I don't want to speak to you!” I'll leave it up to you to imagine which part was speaking to which.
A minute later, the death-defying ATV rider came tearing back around the corner. Instinctively leaping to the side of the road, I observed that his speed was far faster than normal traffic, and then experienced surprise that he didn't flip over at the next corner.
As he disappeared from view, I recalled having once exclaimed that he was an idiot. This time, though, he didn't get the label.
Was this experiment a silly mind game I was playing with myself? Perhaps. But there was quietness inside. It didn't require maintenance. I wasn't impressed by it. It was just quietness.
It persisted for about an hour while I chatted online with some idiots. Except they weren't idiots for the first 55 minutes or so. Then suddenly, they were idiots again.
Geez, I'm such an idiot.