“What are you thinking?” The words are pitched into the air, like a balloon from a comic strip that lingers as I stand frozen. Betsy is speaking. She has been telling me something and I have been listening, but I must seem distant, distraught, disconnected. She thinks she knows that I have something on my mind. She thinks she can read me as plainly as an electric billboard plastered on a freeway overpass. But the traffic has stalled and the message is dim, because there’s nothing really there, nothing of single import.
I tell her “Nothing,” but she does not believe me. It only encourages her to regroup and return with a new approach. She stakes her ground like a military general with a field map draped over the hood of a jeep; calculating maneuvers, success ratios, acceptable casualties. What will work this time, the smile, the tease, the rebuke, the cold shoulder? There’s something in there, and she knows it. If I’m not talking, I must be thinking, holding back some sparkling insight, but if she only knew the truth. I don’t dare tell her the truth. The truth would betray everything.
You see, there are things even in a marriage best keep secret, especially things that go on in the back alley of a too adept mind; unnatural things. I’ve got them in me, now, feeding off me; forming a symbiosis between us. Twenty years of programming has taken its toll. It changes you, forces your mind to evolve into something quite different, beyond normal explanation. I believe it is possible for people to evolve selectively, even during a single lifespan. Cells still split, grow, become new again. DNA becomes RNA becomes DNA; mutations, transformations, adaptations, over a day, over a week, a year, a decade. These tiny metamorphoses compose together to form something new; a brain reconfigured, recalibrated. My mind has re-crystallized, formed new pathways; where I once was one, now I am many. These are my thought co-processors.
There are many of them churning inside; ever present, insatiable, threads of thought weaving multiple tapestries bound together by interlocking patterns, unimaginable and Escher. There is no linear, no absolute; only background and foreground, cross-talk and chatter, all things and none, forever melding and merging, forming the cohesion, the fabric of my identity.
Not one thought, but thousands.