In the past I have found myself wondering if I should try to be calmer, wiser, fitter, better-read, more understanding of others or some other thing that I’m not. Occasionally I have even tried to become one of those things, if only for a short time. Nowadays I look on such attempts to consciously steer my personality in desirous directions as pointless.
Generally these attempts fail outright and even when they have some limited success I find that what I thought I wanted is no longer what I want. There is, for example, something horribly contrived, annoying and unnatural about trying to be wiser. In the end, given your genes and life experiences, you end up being the only person you were ever going to be.
Yet there is one situation where consciously taking control is necessary: annoying music playing in your head. Often on waking up or walking through the streets of Tokyo I find I have a song going through my head that won’t go away. Over the last day or two it has been, Yes Sir, I can Boogie. Shortly before going to bed two nights ago I made the mistake of watching Baccara on Youtube and the song has pestered me, on and off, ever since. I can even hear bits of orchestration and bass I didn’t realise I knew. It’s irritating and I don’t like being the helpless victim of my unruly mind. It is at such moments that I try the mindfulness technique of paying attention to my breathing, which gets rid of unwanted songs for as long as I remember I’m supposed to be watching my breath.
While I would like to be able banish songs by Baccara, ABBA, Joe Dolce and Paper Lace at will, I’m not so bothered that I’m prepared to invest 10,000 hours in meditation practice.