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I wrote this poem in honor of a high school friend, Nancy Schultz Thomas, who stopped me on our walk home from Bismarck High School one day in the fall of 1974, grabbing me by the shoulder. "Hey," she said. "We did something cool in sociology class today. Close your eyes."

I did. "Don't think about pink elephants," she said. "For a whole minute, you can think of anything you want, but NOT pink elephants."

As you can imagine, that's all I could think about. Now, neuroscientists can tell us exactly how this works, which is pretty cool. When you try NOT to think about something, it's often all you can think about.