halleys cometHalley’s Comet swings by our part of the solar system every 76 years or so. People have observed it since about 240 BCE. Sometimes when it returns the comet is the brightest thing in the sky and people have often associated it with prophecy or saw it as an omen of import.

So, here’s my story. Mark Twain was born when Halley’s comet was in the sky**.  Twain also died when the comet returned in 1910.  My Dad was born in 1910. The comet was due to return in 1986 and somehow I was convinced that my Father was going to die when Halley’s comet was again visible, just like Mark Twain.

I have no idea where this idea came from but I did worry as February 1986 came around. It was for naught. My Dad was in the best of health in 1986 and carried on until he died in 2003.

These days we make much of the power of thought. People have always felt that the religious practice of prayer can bring about change. Popular books examine the influence of thoughts on what happens to us. See for example The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, Wishes Fulfilled by Wayne Dyer or Expect Miracles by Joe Vitale. Attitudes (which is what you are thinking after all) influence your wellbeing. I don’t think anyone would argue that one can worry into illness (probably from stress) and smile into happiness.

Here’s my quandary. Do negative thoughts (not stress causing thoughts, but cosmic, life-changing thoughts) bring about negative consequences even if you don’t really want the negative consequences to happen. I mean, if I worry about getting diabetes, will I create diabetes in myself? I don’t want diabetes but if I think about it, do I make it become so?

I want to think that positive thoughts are taken seriously by the universe but when I’m scaring myself, well I’d like to think the universe knows better and those things won’t just happen because I thought them.

Or is my assumption wrong?  What do y’all think?

I still might get diabetes (or another annoying condition) but not because I thought I might. In another essay, we’ll look at why bad stuff happens, but that’s a different issue.

Two handy quotes to finish:

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
― Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden; or, Life in the Woods, 1854.

“Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable, determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of The Secret Garden, 1911.


* The title is my mis-interpretation of “I think, therefore I am” (from René Descartes, Principles of Philosophy, 1644). My interpretation here is “If I think, shall I be?”

** The comet was brightest during November 1835 and Twain (S. L. Clemens) was born on November 30, 1835. He died on April 21, 1910 when the comet was back in April 1910.

Join us for a real-time discussion about this essay, or another post that’s more relevant to aging, on Tuesday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.