What Do You Think About All the Time? July 22, 2008

What Do You Think About All the Time?

Speaking of This American Life, the episode I referred to earlier discussed death and how people had to live with the fact that they (accidentally or otherwise) killed someone in the past — like the young driver who collided with his high school classmate as she rode her bike and turned into his car’s lane, killing her. He could never get her out of his mind even though police reports said the accident was unavoidable and not his fault.

It raises a larger question in my mind that may or may not be as depressing:

What do you think about constantly?

What thought never seems to escape your mind, no matter what you do?

Maybe it’s the husband or wife you love so much. An ex who is no longer in your life. A child you lost. A parent who passed away. Something embarrassing that happened to you as a child.

Is there anyone or anything that you are reminded of every day?

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  • Scarlett Johansson’s tits.

  • Polly

    Death. Almost every hour. Mine, my wife’s, others’.

    I sometimes even imagine how I might go. This is nothing new, I’ve always thought about death.

    The other thing that’s constantly on my mind is how I can live a life that would make me proud.

  • vegatee

    My husband, homework, ideas for the book I’m writing.

    Oh… and chocolate. :o)

  • JohnB

    What I think about is my younger brother, who killed himself five years ago. We were very close, only a little more than a year apart in age and inseparable when we were kids. He’s somewhere in all of my childhood memories, never far away.

    I think about him everyday. I try to think of him as he was, especially when we were younger. But with suicide, what you end up thinking about is not so much how he lived, but how he died. It happened on the day of the reception of my first one-man show, and I got the call that night from my sister. He had been going through a divorce, his third, and I think it got to be too much for him.

    He came to visit me a few days before and kissed me on the cheek when he saw me. I think he had been planning it then and he was saying goodbye to me in his own way. I knew he was going through a tough time, but he had survived two previous divorces and came out ok, so I didn’t think too much about it at the time. That’s what haunts me. If I knew what he was thinking, could I have said or done anything to prevent it? Others tell me I couldn’t have done anything, but still I wonder.

  • Carlos

    This may sound trite, but I think about my wife and kids all the time. When I get home from work I say “Hi guys – I missed you ALL DAY LONG!” I’m not sure they believe me, but I really, really mean it.

    And in response to vegetee, I think about ice cream and cheesy snacks.

  • Spork

    Boobies, global warming, boobies, money, boobies, monkeys, boobies, my dogs, boobies, comic books, boobies, television shows I’ve seen/want to see, boobies, movies, boobies, and mashed potatoes.

  • Jacob


  • my brother committed suicide when he turned 22…when I turned 19. you may think you’ll think about such a thing every day for the rest of your life, but you don’t. I have now been alive with him dead longer than I was alive when he was alive. I don’t think about him every day. I do think about him a few times a year. Sometimes I don’t even think of him on his birthday or mine.

    I do think about things I do every day, and people I see every day, such as my sweetie. I also think about chocolate every day.

  • The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

  • Emily

    I think about my ex-boyfriend… whether or not i still love him, how our relationship will change in the future… we are still friends and have been known to hook up every now and then so my heart is pretty torn.

  • ryot

    Embarassing myself, making a fool of myself, the way others perceive me, what they say about me, etc. I think about other things, but these kinds of thoughts are always racing through my head.

  • krissncleo

    I think about my dead cat Cleo all of the time, esp. when I see another cat. I also think about my ex who I still love, but don’t miss; and I think about her (our) dog Zephyr, who i miss tremendously.

    I also think about “him” (dog spelled backwards) and why his followers preach tolerance but not for women (leave their bodies alone), or gays and lesbians (leave them alone also), and why the origins of the bible is not know to the masses (it was written by people, not the great surveillance camera in the sky).

    Other than that, I think about my favorite places to go on the web: Neurologica, Skepchick, and of course, the Friendly Atheist- not necessarily in that order. Thanxs dude.

    Kriss. Out. Late.

  • David Crespo

    Some uh, racy, answers here. Racy for FriendlyAtheist anyway.

  • Gabriel

    Am I a good dad? Could I be a better dad? Am I doing enough? Am I doing to much? What should I make for dinner? What should I read the kids for their bed time story? How could I let that crazy ex-wife be the mother of my children? What was I thinking? When will my current wife dump me? I really miss sex. How many months has it been since I last had sex? How many years has it been since I had good sex? Is that another gray hair? Are those more wrinkles? Am I really 36? I feel so old. Why won’t this depreciation schedule reconcile? Where can I get the cost basis of these stocks? You know. The usual stuff.

  • mike


    And tits & tang. But, mostly Firefly.

  • OctoberSky

    I think about how my family will disown me when they find out I am an atheist. Raised in a fundamentalist Baptist home, in a very small community, they’ll take it as failure on their part, and rejection on mine.

  • Josha

    I’m leaving for Bulgaria on Sunday to be a peace corps trainee so I think a lot about that (Will I survive? How much will I miss home? What will the other trainees be like?)
    I also think about my atheism and how it could damage some relationships I have with family and friends. And it makes me sad knowing someday they will think less of me for it.

  • Anne

    Death is always on my mind. It always has been to some extent but much more so since I became an atheist. Now I’m always aware of how little time I may have left and whether I am making the best use of it. Not that it matters in the long (billions of years) run.

    My brother committed suicide about 15 years ago. It still weighs heavily on me…the guilt the first year was hell. An online friend committed suicide a few months ago and I get physically sick every time I think of it, wondering if I could have said or done something…..I don’t think so though. As someone who has struggled with suicidal tendencies myself (it does run in families I guess) I don’t think anyone can really do anything for you.

    Hey, I’m really not as depressive as I sound. Most of the time I spend working on stuff for my local humanist group. 🙂

  • yogamama7

    My second daughter, who was stillborn at full term. I don’t think about her ALL the time, but every day, several times a day. My two living children (also both girls) look like they are twins, and my dead daughter would have looked like their triplet. So I never will stop seeing her.

  • Gabriel


    If your time in the peace corp was like my time in the Navy you will always have good memories. Also they might be puzzeled by your atheism but they will be much cooler than anyone else has been. Be brave. You are doing good.

  • Justin

    If you don’t mind this less-serious post, Legos are on my mind a lot, even at my (older) age. Blueprints in my mind for the ultimate spaceship, train, landscape or castle, etc. I also regret the inability to go out and spend $20,000 on pieces. But hey, that’s life.
    On a more serious note, I think about my relationships back in high school, and wonder what I could have done differently. I assume that everybody has that sentiment.

  • Mike

    I am almost constantly thinking about my ex-girlfriend. How I messed it up and what it would be like if we were still together. Or even if it would still be possible to get back together, if I still love her.

    She was an Atheist like me, and that was a major thing; I don’t think that I’ll ever find another girl like her…

  • Gabriel

    Dude, man, there are a lot of women out there, a lot of them are atheists, you two broke up for a reason. Don’t tear yourself apart on this. You will find another girl like her, you willl find many other girls like her. As Jay said at the end of Chasing Amy “Theres one bitch, one bitch with many faces.” Well, I don’t know if that is useful but it is a great line.

  • Julie Marie

    my son. professional growth. personal experiences (what to try next?) my weight. (losing some of it). vacations.

  • BeanFlower

    My future, college, success in life, not missing out. My boyfriend.

    I forgot to mention- (I guess I think about this less than I thought) -I often think about how my life would be if my father hadn’t died in a construction accident, 5 months to the day before I was born. I really would be a completely different person if he were still here.

  • ubi dubius

    My brother died when I was 7 and he was 23. He was the one who took me to baseball games and the Washington Monument and other places. He drove me around in his yellow ’65 Mustang (new at the time – he gave up eating for a semester to buy it). He was the wild one in the family and became a pilot for the Army. He died in a crash.

    I think about him whenever I go to a baseball game, especially at RFK stadium, and when I see a Mustang. None of us (my 6 siblings and me) can imagine him being 60 years old. Wow.

  • Seth C.

    I think about music nearly every day…what to listen to and what to play (I play guitar).

    I think about my ex-gf a good bit. I think about what went wrong and how I can do better in my future relationships. I learned a lot about hasty decisions and the life and mindset of a college girl in that relationship…and I hope she reads and considers my apologies. It would be nice if she would speak to me again…

    I think about God and the Bible a lot. I criticize my core-being and try to rebuild my beliefs consistently. I think about this Friendly Atheist site and how to be a better human in regards to you guys and others.


  • I don’t think I think about anything all the time. I do hear music in my head almost constantly, although the particular song changes daily.

    I do think to myself, “I think I’ll go to the gym tomorrow” almost every day.

  • Samuel Skinner

    Worldbuilding. I’m a total nerd. Or self insertion.

    Or, when I’m in a bad mood… Warhammer 40000.
    “There is no hope opposing the inevitable… bow down before the forces of CHOAS UNDIVIDED!”

  • jacob

    I think about how much i want to be out of high school then i think about how working will probably be worse.

  • i worry too much about what others think of me.

  • Wow! This is like Post Secret . . . for atheists.

    I think about coffee every day. If I don’t think about it when I wake up, I have a headache in the afternoon, so I think about it then . . . because it is a withdrawal headache. I do have a choice. I can choose to go through the withdrawal headaches for three or four days, and then the lethargy for another 3 weeks . . . but coffee is pretty tasty and it is easier (for now) to stay addicted to it.

    Other things I think about, some of them may start out every day, but it fades . . . to every other day and fades yet again over time . . . I don’t know if there is anything I never think about again, because in order to know I’d have to think about it first and then I’d be thinking about it . . . rather than never thinking about it. Some of them are ways I’ve been hurt, or others have hurt me, or people I’ve known and missed. Like my first atheist friend Jim. I was 13 and he was 15 and we met on the internet. He was more than just an atheist friend, a good friend for a long time.

  • Seabhag

    Space, what it means to our civilization, ourselves, and our children. Where we might be if we’d spent a trillion$ on science research in alternative energy and space development instead of war.

    What the future of mankind is, will we experience a peak and decline? Or will we get over our childhood in believing in monsters in the closet and explore the great void of space.

    I worry that the hopes and dreams of the Humanists will be denied by the fanatics of religion.

    I spend time trying to figure out how to make the world a better place.

  • valhar2000

    Random snippets of music I make in my head. Sometimes, If I get very self-absorbed, I’ll even tap my foot or wave my head to the tune of music nobody else hears.

    It’s freaky at first, but you get used to it.

    Oh, and, titties.

  • Milena

    I’m leaving for Bulgaria on Sunday to be a peace corps trainee so I think a lot about that (Will I survive? How much will I miss home? What will the other trainees be like?)

    As someone who’s lived in Bulgaria half her life, I can tell you that you will most likely survive, unless you get hit by a truck or something. Make sure you have some banitza before you leave. 😉

    I mostly think about being on time everywhere I go. I can’t stand being late.

  • TXatheist

    Sex…and after reading the comments I no longer worry about being honest about that.

  • Rose

    Doctor Who

  • Gabriel

    Bad Wolf

  • Saint Splattergut

    Games, worlds and how to build them, good stories, blood, the likelihood of a zombie apocalypse and the outcomes of it… Music… (There’s almost something playing in my head)

    And my partner. I feel like we’ll always be together, but I wonder about my friends. All of them except my best friend.

    P.S. Exactly, Lexi! Atheist Postsecret FTW…

  • David Crespo

    Thanks, Seabhag and TXAtheist, I knew there was something I thought about all the time. Space and sex. Sex in space?

  • I think insatiably about my website, http://www.fabulouslyinthecity.com 🙂

    But, if not that…hhhmm…I guess I think about school a lot. And work. But there’s gotta be something more exciting than that.

    Ah! I got it! I think about city life. I’m in Columbus Ohio right now, and although it’s a fantastic city, I cannot wait to graduate and move on to a bigger city (eventually New York or Chicago). I sit and dream of that day when I won’t own a car, I’ll live in in the heart of the city and I’ll live that glamorous life that involves packed streets and a bustle that never stops.

    I can’t wait to live in New York 🙂

  • Similarly to OctoberSky, I think about how my Mom and Dad are in the slow and painful process of resenting us, (my husband and I), for realizing that atheism/humanism is the best worldview. They are both penecostal pastors with the Foursquare denomination. I was raised that way, and my Dad just will NOT accept our disbelief. They are both in an incredible amount of denial about it right now, and any chance they get, they ask us if we still believe Jesus to be the “Only way, truth and life… because that is ALL that matters.” I don’t have the heart to give a simple and honest, “No” as an answer. Maybe I should. I am so, SO tired of talking about it.

    What would you do if your parents literally wouldn’t accept the very fact that you don’t even believe anymore? There isn’t a whole lot to do, is there?


  • David D.G.

    Here’s what I tend to think about most often and involuntarily:

    1. My late companion, who passed away nearly four years ago. Even though our relationship was often tempestuous (to put it nicely), I still love her and miss her intensely, and I still seldom go an hour without thinking of her.

    2. Dungeons & Dragons and/or whatever other roleplaying game I’m currently involved with.

    3. Music, running through my head almost constantly (especially the first tune or two that I hear in the morning, repeated in my head all day long).

    I don’t think I think of boobs all that much.

    ~David D.G.

  • ash

    sex…and if i’ll ever be anything but a disappointment to myself

  • To be perfectly honest, I can’t put what I feel to words right here. Something about it would just seem disrespectful (I don’t know why; just like I was trivializing it, or something). I think about a lot of horrible things that happened in the past, and how, even though I really didn’t have any physical connection to them, I still felt very close to them emotionally. I was seriously contemplating doing some stupid things for several years, because I felt like I had fucked up my life beyond the point of salvaging, but I managed to come to my senses; somehow, pretty much out of nowhere, I found the strength and the willpower to move on. I forgot about all that for the most part, and I managed to contain the damage done to myself and the few people around me who knew….but every now and then I’ll be reading a book, or watching a movie, or listening to an album, and something will come up that brings all of that back in a way that makes me wonder if I can get over it again.

    So yeah. It still bugs the piss out of me. There are days when I wonder if I’ll ever be able to look at my life in a way that I can really accept. But most of the time, I feel better about it. It’s just those moments when I have too much time to think that I really get lost.

    Strangely, it’s my atheism that has kept me afloat all this time. As an atheist, I live my life to experience, and to enjoy all that the world has to offer. This includes emotions; in a weird sort of way, I enjoy all kinds of emotions, just because it makes you feel alive to feel something. I think that people who are depressed would be able to live a lot easier if they knew what it was like to just not feel anything at all; it’s crushing, and it’s when you get in that frame of mind that you start having crazy thoughts.

    So yeah. I got off on a tangent; sorry if I creeped anybody out. You know, this has actually been sort of therapeutic; thanks, Hemant!

  • Kind of a relief to see I’m not the only one who thinks about death every day.

    Not in a morbid way. I don’t obsess about it. But I’m just getting to be the age at which the youthful sense of immortality is being replaced by the understanding that I’m going to die sooner or later, as is everybody. I wonder what I would do if my spouse died, or what he’d do if I died. I wonder if my stepfather (who’s successfully battled cancer twice, and is now undergoing treatment for a recurrence of his lung cancer) is going to die soon, and how my mother and I will deal with that, or maybe I think about my older sister, who died in the prime of her life.

    And I’m not kidding when I say that atheism is a relief and a comfort. I don’t have to worry about eternal punishment, or whether I’m really truly saved, or whether the people I love will end up in Hell. I know that the universe was around for a long time before I showed up, and it will be around for a long time after I’m gone, and my job, if that’s what it is, is to try to leave the world a better place than it was before I made my appearance.

    Oh, and I think about work and food and hot men and relaxation and recreation and all those other things that make life interesting and worthwhile. You know, the usual.

  • Death has been up there since a good friend of mine died of cancer a year ago this Friday. Not in a morbid way, just like death is just around the corner or something. I think about my own death, and what would happen if my wife or son died and how I’m not sure I could bear it.

    I also think about my wife a lot, and for the purposes of full disclosure, I think of her boobs quite a bit too.

    I think about whether I am a good dad or not, whether I am a good person or not, and when I’m really excited about a new movie, I think about that a lot too. Dark Knight was all I could really think about for about a week before I saw it.

    So, to recap. Death, family, parenting, wife’s boobs and pop culture. Somehow I imagined I would be thinking more interesting things.

  • I definitely think about my dad’s suicide every day, and like JohnB, it’s more about how he died over how he lived.. and that really bugs me. It’s been over 3 years, and although that night I was supposed to be with my parents, I know that whether I had been there that night or not, he woulda done it eventually anyway. I used to blame myself a bit but luckily I’ve worked past that.

    I also think about how he was the 4th suicide in my family (3 generations) and it scares me that someone else in my family will go the same route..

    On a happy note, I think about my boyfriend every day because he’s so amazing, and I think about my pets every day because they make me the happiest!

    Oh and I concur with the general consensus of “tits”. I may be a straight female but I love me some tits.

  • Brian

    I also think about death everyday in much the same way as pyramus, just accepting my mortality. Then I think about all the various conflicts and family drama that I see and it is striking at how petty the arguments are. I think about how ridiculous it is that religious belief can force people apart because one side breaks some arbitrary rule invented years and years ago.

    I also think about my girlfriend, and how fortunate I was to have found somebody so accepting, tolerant, intelligent, and beautiful. I think about how my life would have turned out if we’d never met, and how empty it would be compared to the richness that it is now.

    And sex. I should work out more too. And my love of those big chocolate chip cookies sold at the cafe place….it is a daily struggle NOT to walk 15 minutes to buy one hugely overpriced cookie that is so delicious.

  • College. Professional growth. Japanese food. That hot artist druggie guy from Heroes, Santiago Cabrera. The television drama that I’m currently writing. Cock, particularly my hot boss’s. (Hey, if you guys can get away with your “titties” comments…)

  • FA. I think about FA all the time. Did I post something stupid? Who are these people in real life? Will Hemant ever get married? Who is Mike C. really? Will Richard ever lose his temper? Has Polly gotten over my idiotic behavior? Why is ash obsessed with sex? Where is Claire? David D.G. makes cute faces. Will AJ ever be nice to a Christian? Did Mriana get tired of us? Lindsey? are you there? Darryl is a nice guy. Who can keep up with all these posts? Are we all losers who spend way too much time on the computer? How can I help in making FA realize its potential? Or is there no purpose in any of it, other than a place for everyone to rant and talk about themselves?

    I think I need therapy… 🙁

  • Don Pope

    Nothing specific.
    I change topics frequently.
    Some days I think about work, others about my finances, sex, politics, death, my kids, retirement, toys, the future, etc. I don’t have a single topic that consumes my waking hours.

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