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Test Thoughts

In our observations about interactions with other people my wife and I frequently observe what we call “test thoughts”. It is a concept she has found in the novel “Night Train to Lisbon“, by the Swiss author Pascal Mercier. These thoughts are not meant for action, though they seem to be. Often we find people saying: “I would like to do this and that” – but they never would. A friend of my wife produces a lot of test thoughts, especially in the form of advice for other people: “You should go for a walk one hour a day for your swollen legs.” – She never would do the walks herself, for she doesn’t like walking.

My wife first was very much irritated by all these proposals and didn’t know what to do with them, until she realised that these were test thoughts, just empty proposals without anything behind. She now replies: “Oh, that’s a very good idea, that would do me good,” – without even thinking of doing it. So there are no discussions and peace is ensured. Next time her friend has forgotten all about it.

Substantial thoughts are a solid basis for action, but test thoughts just are by-products of an over-active mind.

Test thoughts are just passers-by. Travellers on the platform of the Lauterbrunnen railway station

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