OverThinking

sriracha
I wonder if I over-think as much as I think I do. It's true, I do often think my way through an anticipated action two, three, four, often even many more times before I take action, and even then, I might opt to take no action at all (yet). I consider my scrutiny prudent, though obviously not everyone would agree. How many thought experiments must a standard ketchup bottle survive before it's simply set aside as too complicated to open yet?

I seem to have been born to run on intuition, yet blunt my native sort of 20/20 vision with dump truck loads of conflating cognition. I weigh the alternatives, finding most all of them somehow wanting. Even when I choose to act, I frequently find that I've forgotten the secret trick behind successfully opening that ketchup bottle. (Hint: There's a plastic tag which must be removed secreted beneath the cellophane-protected 'easy-open' cap. Nothing short of a sharp paring knife can possibly cut through that industrial-grade cellophane. Good luck trying to remove that easy-open cap to expose the ultimately unremovable plastic tag underneath.) I should not be surprised when I realize how much wiser just using the already opened Sriracha might prove to be. I decide to leave be a lot of unopened ketchup.

These little dramas punctuate my day. I work hard not to take them too personally. For all I know, everyone constantly wrestles with just these kinds of dilemmas, though I feel uniquely haunted by them. Could I not more confidently engage with these disempowering features rather than considering, re-considering, then re-considering again before choosing to avoid engaging with them again? Apparently not! I have a pantry filled with roads not taken, a workbench well-stocked with essentially unusable handyman aids which, upon closer consideration, I could not use at all.

Perhaps I exhibit the writer's fate, for writers, you see, transcribe little without mindfully mulling on it first. Flawless prose never flows out the ends of any writer's fingers; typing speed, absolutely irrelevant. I use my delete key much more than any other. I deleted that last paragraph three times before settling on what remains there now.

I mow my lawn like I write. I consider the work before I begin, concocting alternate scenarios and over-estimating the effort required, over-whelming myself with pre-suppositions, convincing myself just how impossible the work might be before finally, in a fitful thread of a moment, I simply begin. Once inside the work, I (so far) figure out the intricacies I never could recall from before. I might even sense some hazy mastery once engaged, though my muscle memory will never seem able to retain it. Next time, I'll encounter that same great mystery again and question if I ever demonstrated that skill until I decide to just go ahead and try again, after mulling over just how unlikely I might be to succeed.

It seems a genuine wonder to me when I successfully complete anything. After working my way through a hazy half-dozen scenarios demonstrating how I could not possibly succeed, the most unlikely result always, always, always shocks and surprises me. I wonder then if I really do over-think as much as I think I do or if the accompanying rig-a-marole might just be necessary for me to get anything done.

©2016 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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