UnderThinking

existential
" … with meaningful insights struggling to be seen, much less appreciated, …"

I was going to write about OverThinking today, but I discovered that I'd already written about that three years ago. I caught myself in one of those rumination loops common to my practice. Prior considering will have only rarely settled anything. I believe that I could infinitely consider any topic and still fail to stumble upon much of a conclusion. Conclusions, I tell myself, seem over-rated, anyway. If I am because I think, as Descartes so proudly proclaimed, thinking might serve as a precondition to my even being here. Should I ever stop, Descartes might predict that I'd simply disappear. Not that my disappearing would necessarily set back civilization even an angry inch. Thinking serves as one of those activities which somehow survives without ever having acquired a cogent definition of itself. In that respect, thinking and I might be fraternal twins. I spend most of every day in my head, thinking, as the presumption goes, but perhaps not OverThinking so much as UnderThinking there.

UnderThinking seems an art, for its purpose couldn't possibly be simple representation.
We have computers to accomplish that now, and even my phone's smart enough to produce better likenesses of the world around me than I'll ever produce. UnderThinking seems less about discovering or uncovering any conclusion than about considering from varying perspectives. The object of this exercise, not usually to directly conclude anything but to gain insight. Insights serve as the magic beans of this world, filled with promise, but not nearly as immediately useful as any old, reliable cow. Often, an insight will detour thinking into an unexpected direction, usually further away from any definitive conclusion, but often into nonetheless interesting territory. A greater sense of orientation serves as the most common result produced by UnderThinking, more of a You Are Here sense more than a Here's How You Get There certainty.

Indeed, Underthinking tends to deepen mysteries more than resolve them. Greater appreciation might result, though it's always the UnderThinker's responsibility to add their own appreciation, like one might add their own egg to a cake mix, a twist only ever discovered after reading the fine print inconveniently displayed on the back of the box and far removed from any egg supply. Appreciation is sold separately, as the advertising copy always proclaims, and the UnderThinking never assumes any liability for the quality of any third-party component of the final product. If an innocent UnderThinker engages in their undefinable activity with the expectation that it might get them anywhere, he expose himself to experiencing real disappointment until he stumbles upon the fact that he's in charge of his own disappointments, too. An ounce of appreciation, most often taken rectally, easily resolves the difficulty. A genuine pain in the butt, but a potentially useful one.

I UnderThink almost everything. Rather than addressing some question head-on, I'll usually try to sneak up behind to surprise the heck out of it instead. More direct approaches typically highlight just how smart I'm not. The written instructions almost never induce understanding for me unless I first read them backwards or fail to find them amid the voluminous packaging until after I've assembled the product to find significant parts leftover and a circuit breaker popping. Some mysteries simply cannot be thought through without employing the under-appreciated art of UnderThinking.

UnderThinking might qualify as another item to add to my list of topics for which no workshop or training course could ever be developed, but is nonetheless desperately needed. In a world seemingly half-filled with halfwits, many the innocent victims of their own misguided thinking, some orientation to the field of UnderThinking could significantly improve mankind's lot. Had Descartes understood UnderThinking, he and his ilk would have never expelled the philosopher from the laboratory, and the volume of unintended consequences might well have been dramatically reduced. Instead, we encourage thinking, often to the point of OverThinking, and march altogether too confidently into our ever opaque future, with meaningful insights struggling to be seen, much less appreciated, above the din of our so-called progress's marching feet.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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