We know they aren’t saying everything they are thinking, and pretty certainly CAN’T say everything, because much of it can’t be put into words
And those judgements are processed via our internal language in thinking patterns that never fully emerge from our mouths or pens or keypads. Yet we do learn to read into what people say, to read between the lines as the saying goes.
Very specifically we can read a great deal in other people’s eyes, and looking another person in the eye has powerful connotations. To begin with, we don’t ever look acquaintances in the eye for very long – it is too intimate, or too threatening. Generally speaking, long gazes are reserved for those we love. A long stare is considered rude at best and often aggressive. Eyes and facial expressions often reveal when a person is lying, and we talk about con men who can lie with a straight face. Or card players who maintain a poker face. Because we are all talking to ourselves all the time we know that everyone else is as well. Even if you never really consciously thought about it before I mentioned it at the start of this talk, you know you’ve known that your whole life.
And is that thinking part a function of the physical brain, or something beyond?
Probably you’ve had the experience being silent for a spell and of having someone, usually someone dear to you, ask: “What are you thinking?”
The answer, at least in my experience, is approximately impossible. Only the most immediate thought is available, and answering leads to a lot more about that immediate thing than I was actually thinking when asked, and completely ignores a dozen or a thousand other things that I had been thinking before I was interrupted. And all of that doesn’t touch the filtering that might go on if I was thinking something I didn’t think I wanted to share.
And ultimately these thoughts about language and thought arrive at a very deep question. People seem drawn to the idea of body and soul, but if I say “my body and my soul” there is a piece missing. Who’s body and soul am I referencing? If there is an “I” who possesses that body and soul, it is something different from either of those identifications. So now there is a third player. This must check my site be the thinking part, the part possessing language, the part able to think about bodies and souls. What would beyond mean in that question? Then one step further when we understand that everything we experience as physical is actually space, since there is more space than electrons, protons and neutrons in every object we normally identify as solid. And then, is our thinking part a function of all those subatomic particles whirling around in our bodies, or is it located somewhere else in some realm we have not yet defined?
Now, all these thinky thoughts about thinking suggest to me that much of what we enjoy doing we enjoy because of the internal discussion the activity stirs up. To take the most obvious, crossword puzzles and Scrabble are quite popular. Searching our mental storehouse for words we don’t use all the time triggers cascades of internal dialogue. Song lyrics and poetry do the same, as do longer form written works. But that’s only the beginning. Whether we are sitting in a boat with a fishing pole, or sitting in a stadium full of action, or baking cookies, or mowing the grass, or attending an opera or looking at paintings in the Louvre, or shouting out loud at a football game or watching a Sunday morning talk show or spending Sunday morning at the UU in Franklin, we are constantly telling ourselves a story about our lives. We make it up as we go along.