in: Advice, Character

• Last updated: June 3, 2024

Do You Only Think You’re Thinking?

Black and white portrait of a man with short hair, wearing a suit, dress shirt, and tie, looking slightly upward with a thoughtful expression that suggests deep self-awareness.

Note: We recently came across this old poem and dug it. Enjoy.


By Berton Braley

You say “I think” ten times a day
Or fifteen times or twenty
And even more. Well, anyway
You sure repeat it plenty.
But pause and ponder half a wink
And start your brain-cells clinking;
“I think” you say, but do you think
Or only think you’re thinking?

How often is the thing you’ve thought
Out of yourself created
And not a dictum you’ve been taught
And simply imitated?
Into a reverie you sink
And like an owl you’re blinking,
But do you actually think,
Or only think you’re thinking?

“I think” you say—and ladle out
Some fusty old opinion
That probably was known about
In Pharaoh’s dominion.
Do new ideas ever slink
Into your cranium’s chinking?
I wonder—do you really think
Or only think you’re thinking?

Traditions, customs, fill your head
And some of them have virtue,
But most of them have long been dead
They fester there and hurt you.
Son, chuck that clutter in the drink
Wake up—don’t sit there blinking!
Wake up! And then perhaps you’ll think
And not just think you’re thinking!

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