I often wonder about thinking, the process of thinking itself… is that odd?
What is it that people DO when they think? When people tell me they sit and ‘think about things’ or about something in particular, I’m a little baffled. I don’t know that I ‘sit and think.’ I’m not sure those two things go together for me.
When I sit and think, I think I mostly daydream; at least, that’s what I call it. I remember and, for heaven’s sake why, repeat conversations I’ve had recently. I wander randomly, without direction, through memories, images—people’s faces, band or choir rehearsals, for instance— small film clips of my past.
I wonder about things, too, at times. I wonder on my walk about how this poor sugar maple the roots of which were aggressively torn at when the township opened up the space on the little gully hill. Exposed, I thought this beautiful tree would die. However, it has adapted and it grew leaves and changed to exquisite reds this fall. And the dead roots are still exposed. I feel for the tree. I feel for the little lives that sacrificed themselves to the grating of the bulldozer. I’ve marvelled at the power of regeneration: the barren slope sprouted plants this spring.
Is this thinking?
Or is thinking when you choose a problem to consider and attempt to solve? Is it when you decide to create a plan for something and you think through the plan, setting it out in your mind and developing the steps to take?
Is thinking when you sit and consider just what your values are at this point and have they changed and if so, in what way, and if not, why not? Is thinking when you remember pieces and ideas from a book or books and you bring them together in a new concoction?
I don’t sit and think. If thinking is any and all of these things, then I do think (hallelujah), but I walk and think. I don’t have full control over the thinking process, though. I may start out thinking about a problem or a new idea but within seconds, something in the process has alerted something else in my mind and I’m off on that tangent and then another. And then I have to remind myself what the original point was and see if I can focus on that again. Usually, I can’t for long.
If thinking is any and all of these things, then I think through writing. I sit at my table and start with a word or a concept and then follow my mind as it branches out and collects and absorbs all the associated thoughts and ideas. Lines are drawn, bubbles are linked, colours are involved and from that a new project or some clarification happens.
I’ve created businesses and plans and goals through my Morning Pages. My hand moves, without stopping, and even if I write blah blah blah blah blah blah blah for a line or two, or pen write keep writing go wood table cat in lap warm weather for a line or two, eventually, sentences emerge and ideas coalesce.
Is that thinking? Is there a way to measure one’s thinking? Its success? Does it need to have an end point? Should I gone into philosophy
Is the fact that I’m bothered by this at all evidence of some kind of helpful thinking process?
I’ll need to go ponder on all this.