Some ideas feel either deep or extremely obvious. You’ve heard some trite truism your whole life, then one day an epiphany lands and you try to save it with words, and you realize the description is that truism. And then you go out and try to tell others what you saw, and you can’t reach past their bored nodding. Or even you yourself, looking back, wonder why you wrote such tired drivel with such excitement.

When this happens, I wonder if it’s because the thing is true in your model of how to think, but not in how you actually think.

For instance, “when you think about the future, the thing you are dealing with is your own imaginary image of the future, not the future itself”.

On the one hand: of course. You think I’m five and don’t know broadly how thinking works? You think I was mistakenly modeling my mind as doing time-traveling and also enclosing the entire universe within itself? No I wasn’t, and I don’t need your insight.

But on the other hand one does habitually think of the hazy region one conjures connected to the present as ‘the future’ not as ‘my image of the future’, so when this advice is applied to one’s thinking—when the future one has relied on and cowered before is seen to evaporate in a puff of realizing you were overly drawn into a fiction—it can feel like a revelation, because it really is news to how you think, just not how you think a rational agent thinks.