I repeat this vow about 700 times a day: “I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore.” Every time a diminishing thought arises, I repeat the vow. I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore. The first time I heard myself say this, my inner ear perked up at the word “harbor”, which is a noun as well as a verb. A harbor, of course, is a place of refuge, a port of entry. I pictured the harbor of my mind – a little beat-up perhaps, a little storm-worn, but well situated and with a nice depth. The harbor of my mind is an open bay, the only access to the island of my Self (which is a young and volcanic island, yes, but fertile and promising). This island has been through some wars, it is true, but is now committed to peace, under a new leader (me) who has instituted new policies to protect the place. And now – let the word go out across the seven seas – there are much, much stricter laws on the books about who may enter this harbor.
You may not come here anymore with your hard and abusive thoughts, with your plague ships of thoughts, with your slave ships of thoughts, with your warships of thoughts – all these will be turned away. Likewise any thoughts that are filled with angry or starving exiles, with malcontent and pamphleteers, mutineers and violent assassins, desperate prostitutes, pimps and seditious stowaways – you may not come here anymore either. Cannibalistic thoughts, for obvious reasons, will no longer be received. Even missionaries will be carefully screened, for sincerity. This is a peaceful harbor, the entryway to a fine and proud island that is only now beginning to cultivate tranquility. If you can abide by these new laws, my dear thoughts, then you are welcome in my mind – otherwise I shall turn you back toward the sea from whence you came.
That is my mission, and it will never end.
– Elizabeth Gilbert