Not sure I inderstand your answer so I think it is conceptual?
Yes, conceptualization after the fact.
So, is there anything other than 'I' thoughts creating the Nessie narrative?
Can’t tell, how can I see?
I don't understand your question.
You have been told since you were a small child, and given a name, that you are a seperate self. It is not true but you believe it. It causes you tremendous suffering.
The game here is that since you believe the self exists you have to diligently search for it. It won't be found and the penny will drop. The key area for most is thought. You believe thought even though most of it is nonesense. The great majority of it is nonesense about the Nessie story. You need to really investigate this until you see it for the nonesense it is.
For example you seem to realise quite clearly that there is only now, therefore what are thoughts about the past and future? Meaningless rubbish perhaps? They are certainly not the truth, at best a distorted version of whatever is being thought about.
Do you cease to be or to function when you have periods free of self-referrential thought?
Good. So thought is not required for being.
Very good from this point on to spend as much time in nature as possible. All of life doing it's thing and not a self to be found anywhere.
What do you mean by ‘thought content is empty’?
Not real, insubstantial, dreamstuff.....
You can think beans on toast all day but you sure can't eat it!
You can think Nessie thoughts all day but is there really a sepearate self to which the label Nessie refers. For a Nessie or a Michael to exist the entire cosmos is required..........
Can separation be found in experience?
Perhaps it is time to go outside and look at a tree. The label refers to the trunk, some branches, and the leaves and flowers.
Can you see a tree that is not part of the earth, needing rain, and mist, and nutrients. Does it not require gravity, pollinators, the sun etc, etc?
Could it be the same for Nessie, or are you the isolated self entity you imagine?
Is there anything in the universe you are not connected to?