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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

When the Thought Doesn't Count

You’ve heard it time and again: “It’s the thought that counts.” Not really. Thoughts have nugatory value, unless . . . .

A qualification. Thoughts alone can have value to the thinker. Alone. Thinking of someone else might stimulate a rush of dopamine in one’s own head, which can be a personal boost. But it does absolutely nothing for the one thought of, unless . . .

I can think of you five hours a day, but unless I communicate this to you with a phone call, an e-mail, a snail-mail letter, a visit, or whatever, my pleasant thoughts remain only that . . . neurotransmitted fuzzy feelings bouncing around between my ears.

One can have empathetic thoughts for the ill widower down the street who can’t make his own meals or cut the 8-inch high front lawn grass are. But without helping to provide meals or cut his front yard, the man stays hungry, and grass continues to lengthen, and the empathy drifts into oblivion like smoke from a campfire.

You can have socially responsible thoughts about how burning fossil fuels contributes to air pollution and climate change. But those thought dissipate with the exhaust if you purchase and drive a Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport (8 mpg in the city and 11 mpg on the highway for a combined average of 9 mpg).

Thoughts count for little-to-nothing if not followed by action. Put positively, thoughts have meaning and effect when put into practice . . . intentional, purposeful, demonstrable practice.

A few years back I totaled a motorcycle during Olympia rush hour on an Interstate highway. It could have been considerably worse (as in, buying the farm), but I was still laid up with a concussion, a sprained back, and some broken bones. One of my long time and dearest friends was notified of my travail. He not only thought of me, but he also made the hour-long drive to spend time with me. Thoughts notwithstanding, it was the visit that counted.

The process originates with thoughts. Whether or not they are followed by actions will indicate just how valuable – or not – those thoughts are.

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