I took this photo at the Belize Zoo.

When I first heard the term “Monkey Mind,” I was pretty sure I knew what it meant and that it applied to me.  Here is one definition, from

Consider that we humans have around fifty thousand separate thoughts each day, many of them on the same topic.  You might imagine that each thought is a branch, and you, or at least the attention of your conscious mind, is indeed a monkey, swinging from thought-branch to thought-branch all day long.

It’s no accident that the definition I chose is from “Pocket Mindfulness.” Its web address implies it would be a short definition, not requiring much time or attention.  That is the hallmark of monkey mind behavior:  trying to accomplish too much in a short time, seldom sitting still,  seldom giving a thought or feeling its due.  

The next time you are in a waiting room, look around and you’ll see that nearly everyone is looking at a cell phone. It seems that most of us are incapable of being with our own thoughts. Adam Conover (of Adam Ruins Everything) posted a video years ago about the difficulties of doing nothing for three minutes.  I often think of Adam’s video when I am sitting still, twitching while thinking of the next thing to do.  My thoughts swing monkey-like from branch to branch.

As readers of this blog know, my friend Amy died in May. She didn’t expect she would not have a normal life span and neither did all of us she left behind.  It got me thinking—am I going to spend the rest of my life keeping my house tidy and the laundry folded?  Jumping from project to project that doesn’t really come to much? I have a plan.  It’s a modest plan but no harm in trying.  I am going to (1) set aside time during which I can’t be interrupted; (2) read more fiction; (3) watch less cable news;(4) spend more time with my family and friends (5) finish that short story I keep putting aside.

To quote Robert Reich—“What do you think?”  I truly want to know.



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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