Thinking


"I grab just where I think it is only to find that it must be somewhere else instead."


Before you begin reading this posting, please reference Google (or even Bing!) and look up the definition of Thinking.

I'm fairly certain that most readers did not accept this invitation, but it hardly matters. Had you refreshed your memory with the formal definition of Thinking, I doubt that you came away any clearer about the meaning of the term. Google or Bing! Images related to the term Thinking, and you'd be no better off. Light bulbs, empty dialogue clouds, and photos of people scratching their heads greeted you, didn't they? If effective communication relies upon those involved sharing a common understanding of the topic's meaning, we seem to be sunk before we've even begun considering Thinking as our topic of the day, but since I'm really investigating the many facets of cluelessness, we might be starting at something close to exactly the proper spot. At least I think we might be.

I've thought of myself as a thinker all my life. I hold no advanced degree in thinking, mind you, but I've nonetheless thought of myself as more of a thinker than anything else.
Some might think of me as a writer (or a wannabe writer), but I think much more than I ever write. I think you should be grateful for that. Whatever else I might characterize myself 'as', I spend more time ensconced between my ears than anywhere else. Even with my lifetime's experience thinking, I recognize that I have few clues as to what it is that I do when I think I'm thinking. Some definitions declare that thinking is the experience of thoughts popping into one's head, a description that nearly blows up my head when I read it. I think that 'we' have little idea what it is that we do when we think we're thinking. I'm confident that I have no clue.

Yet I exhort people to think about something before they blurt, though sometimes blurting exhibits the finest results imaginable and other times, mere drivel. We think that college graduates have acquired the 'skill' to think critically, whatever that is. I think that 'think' might be another of those dastardly dormatives, words which seem to hold clear meaning until we try to clearly describe just what they mean; rather like praying, perhaps, where nobody knows for sure what happens after the preacher invites the congregation to reverently bow their head and 'pray.' Some might subvocalize The Lord's Prayer while others close their eyes to visualize the upcoming Sunday supper. No auditor's canvassing the crowd to determine relative piety. It's every man for himself and nobody's watching, except, perhaps, each person's God.

I think it's the same way with thinking. Some people sure seem skilled at coming up with novel ideas. Not even they seem able to explain exactly how they manage to do that, ascribing their gift as somehow beyond their control, visitations or visions or something. Newspapers publish Think Pieces intended to get the reader to thinking, or thinking differently, if only because thinking is about as close as we've come to creating a universal good. When someone does something stupid, we wonder, "What were they thinking?", as if they just must have been thinking about something. I suspect that little thought goes into much of the action we witness, and I also wonder what 'more thought' might improve, but then I'm the guy can't quite grok what thinking means in the first place.

"I think, therefore I am" might at least strongly compete for an utterly vacuous proclamation. We think we understand what thinking entails, so we make inflated pronouncement about its beneficent influence. I've come to understand that I think differently than many, a distinction with little utility other than to leave me feeling isolated and a little ashamed. I tend to come to different conclusions than the rest of the people in the room, which complicates consensus-building. I often wonder how others arrived at opposing opinions, but when I ask, they fail in their attempt to explain what seemed obvious the moment before I asked the question. Thinking seems like trying to catch a harvest time fruit fly. I grab just where I think it is only to find that it must be somewhere else instead.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









blog comments powered by Disqus