Pocket Oxford English Dictionary (2005 edition):
Thoughtless adj. 1. not showing consideration for other people; 2. without considering the consequences of something
Tonight on the bus home after a long day, I finally realised the true nature of thoughtlessness. It isn’t inherently malicious. People do not mean to be thoughtless, in fact, maybe thoughtlessness doesn’t actually exist except in the thoughts of those to whom less thought or consideration has been given. Which actually means that the act and consequences of thoughtlessness are full of thought.
I don’t like feeling that I have been thoughtless, and I don’t like when others appear thoughtless towards me. But negotiating this in the ‘real world’ can be tricksy. Sitting on the bus, I was thinking about the people surrounding me. Human beings, basically the same as me, but I will never know their thoughts. Are they thinking at all? What sort of thoughts are they having? No wonder that sometimes public transport seems like the perfect theatre for thoughtlessness: swearing in front of kids, listening to music too loud, eating stinky food, taking up the whole seat next to you etc. I strongly believe that these sorts of interactions are actually useful and productive to move toward a more cohesive society, but tonight I also felt totally and completely alone in my thoughts.
The French word for thoughtless derives from the verb etourdir meaning to stun, daze; to make giddy or dizzy. I think this describes quite well what being both thoughtless and the subject of less thought feels like. It is disorientating, isolating, exciting, anger inducing, uncontrollable.
Sometimes, like on the 65 bus yesterday to Richmond, I experience a different sort of thoughtlessness. My mind relaxes and I think about not very much at all, I float into a dream where I am fully awake. These moments are liberating, calming, like a trance or daze, they are empowering but god knows what the passenger next to me is thinking.
People cannot help being thoughtless, and a little less thought can be good for the soul. If you feel that you are putting more thought into the thoughtlessness of others, the best thing to do is ring the bell, get off at the next stop, come home, make a cuppa and write a really pretentious blog entry. And then maybe get some sleep and return to the local history another day.
[P.s. I’m getting my act together and will post more about the 213 route someday soon – I promise!]