My favorite thing to do is think. I know a lot of people don’t like to. But I was the kind of kid who would quickly put together his Lego set, just so he could lie on his tummy and stare at the pieces.
I learned late in life that the act of creation requires 1/2 time of concentrated action and 1/2 time of merely observing the created object. In writing, this is putting one word after the other for one hour, and then reading/revision/editing for one hour. In painting, I would imagine, this is the division of painting a canvas and observing the canvas. In ballet, probably, half in the studio and half watching tapes of yourself. Sports athletes do this already, right, watch games to improve?
Simply watch, think, review. I love that, and I love doing it too.
The problem with love, and with thinking, is that we tend to go overboard. Luckily, we have stories, search-engines, or mentors who keep us on track, and keep us focused on the action half of things.
We save a lot of wasted time by seeking advice, listening to the feedback, or modeling our idols. That’s because before setting sail, we might stare too long at sea, never leave at all. In other words, we lose that ideal half-and-half balance, by thinking too much, which in turn becomes worry, anxiety, paralysis. Whether it’s ruminating over a problem or puzzling out a difficult task, to get others to think for us puts us back on track to what matters: action.
The road to hell, however, isn’t just paved in good intentions. It is taken, used, walked on blindly by us who do not think.
The biggest mistake in seeking advice or modeling is becoming a machine. Where all we do is act, perform, reach for the cheese dangling from a string before our eyes, held by someone riding our back. In this state we google-answer everything, save a lot of time, but then become complacent. And not only that.
We criticize the thinkers.
Those brainiacs, who are the first to comment, because they’re the first to seek an answer to the question on everybody’s mind. What good are they?
Thinking is a selfish act. More use to me if thinkers retire their mind, and buy my product. More value to me if thinkers quit their naked game, put on my jersey and play by the rules. Better for the group would a closed mouth open and speak words I understand, not that silly dribble inside. Stupid thinkers.
It’s not a privileged group, by any stretch, yet I count myself among them. The wheel spinners. The jog in place folk. The thinkers. The tinkerers. The ponderers.
And yet what I can’t wrap my brain around is whether we as a species discredit Thinking more because of its perceived low market value, or more because of the fact that we ourselves are so unused to doing it ourselves.
I remember hearing Kanye in an interview say, “Stop thinking so much,” and feeling hit in the gut with some truth.
I remember growing up, and my family asking me, as I would stare out the passenger window, “What are you thinking?” And me turning around, pausing whatever mental game I was playing, to reply, “Nothing.” Sometimes it was really nothing, I was just trying to make a speck on the window jump over traffic cones; other times I was really thinking something, but I didn’t know how to formulate the thought into words.
Thinking is funny like that, for me, and for a lot of people without practice, thinking works like a mind map. One thought follows another, in sequence, rather in bursting zigzags on a wide blank page.
To paraphrase a clinical psychologist, writer of a couple of famous books, he said we tend to think like this:
“Essay, Freud, crackhead, born in Vienna, with a Netflix show out, I will write about, mentioned by grandfather, with a big wet sloppy cigar, which is just a cigar, in his mouth, oral complex.”
Only with a lot of trimming, rearranging, pruning — and more thinking! — could we ever dream of one day writing a decent enough sentence that would “make sense,” like something out of a news article:
“With a new Netflix show available, many of us are wondering again about the Victorian with a cigar in his mouth: Freud.”
All this thinking, and ordering thoughts.
Heck. This post was just a thought!
What do you think?