Monday, March 03, 2014

On Thinking

I do an awful lot of thinking. ... No, let me rephrase that: my mind is like a car with the engine turned on, the gas pedal pushed to the floor, and the gearshift in neutral. This is to “thought” what a table full of baking ingredients is to a pie.  Actually grabbing one single thought and holding onto it long enough to do anything of value with it is nearly impossible for me.

I’d actually finished this blog before it dawned on me that it probably made little or no sense. I’d originally intended to address the various aspects of thinking. I was planning to delve into the subject at some depth...or what passes for depth with me.

We think from the day we are born. Even before we engage in what might be considered rational thought, we as babies begin thinking as a way of learning how to use our bodies, familiarizing ourselves first with the purpose of our various appendages, then with the voices and faces of our parents, and exploring our senses—taste being the first. Having established the basic knowledge of the our physicality, rationality and logic then slowly enter the equation.

To return to the car analogy, the mind is the driver, the body the car. They generally work flawlessly as a team throughout childhood, youth, and well into adulthood. But there inevitably comes a point where the two begin to part ways. It seldom if ever occurs to the mind that while it has no major physical components to wear out, the body is constructed totally of components that do. We’re at first confused by the physical slowing down of the body—it’s unwillingness and eventually inability to do what it had always done before. 

Life has been compared to a highway, and while the mind assumes it should always be able to maintain the speed limit, all the thinking in the world can’t change the fact that the body/car is being increasingly overtaken and passed by sleek, newer models with shinier paint and more highly polished chrome. The mind may still be in the race, but the body is inexorably forced into the slow lane. As the situation becomes more and more apparent, it’s not uncommon for the mind to experience a mixture of anger at the body and fear for itself.

But for all the benefits of thinking in the body-and-mind union, I’ve always wondered why, since thinking is one of the greatest of all the unique gifts bestowed upon Mankind, so many people don't seem to bother with using it, and are content to let other people do their thinking for them.

I just had the mental image of a nest of baby birds, mouths agape, waiting for their parents to regurgitate nourishment, and the thought that when it comes to thinking, too many humans never get beyond the baby-bird stage. They willingly swallow anything they're fed and accept as gospel anything they're told. Why bother to chew on a thought when you can just swallow someone else’s whole?

A terrifyingly large number of people one might assume to be rational human beings have been somberly telling us that our President is an usurper to the office he holds; the fact that he was elected  to the office…twice…means absolutely nothing. He is, to those who never met a conspiracy theory they didn’t like,  a Kenyan-Socialist-Marxist-Muslim-terrorist Antichrist who drinks the blood of Christian babies for breakfast. He is E-vil incarnate. Really? Gee, that sounds terrible. But I'm not going to spend any time thinking about it for myself. If people say it, it must be true, right? So that's proof enough for me. I'll just go along with it with no question.

I can't help but wonder how much of the anger and hostility sweeping the world today is based on independent thought and how much on our willingness to be carried along on the sheer, unreasoning tsunami engendered by accepting what we’re told without question.

And I have just realized, upon rereading all of the above for the fourth or fifth time and trying to smooth out the lumps, that at the rate I’m going, this particular blog has the potential to be only a few pages shorter than The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. So I think I should just call it a day. Maybe I'll try to talk about thinking again sometime. You know, come up with a bunch of analogies between cars and drivers and minds and bodies and…. Well, we’ll see.


Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1), which is also available as an audiobook (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00DJAJYCS&qid=1372629062&sr=1-1).

3 comments:

Kage Alan said...

You bring up a variety of points--all equally valid--so that may be why you had difficulty with the lumps.

I used to play racquetball and I realized I'd wear myself out while my opponent still had more energy. This mirrors life. The answer, I figured out, was simply to be in control of the ball and make my opponent do all the running.

That can sometimes be translated back to life. Not a horrible thing, either.

Katy said...

My mind works a lot like yours Dorien. It's usually 3 or 4 steps ahead of what I'm currently doing. Or, it sees what's going to happen as a result of what someone is doing (or not doing). It drives my husband nuts because I point it out, hoping to avoid the end (bad) result and usually I'm right. He sees it as nagging. I see it as averting a mess. Especially with my kids.
If my mind didn't work that way, I couldn't keep everyone's schedules straight as well as my own. It's also the reason I can have 3 different novels going at the same time and not get them confused. I've done that since I was a kid.
I think all really interesting people have minds that work in a similar fashion. The world is so full of amazing stuff, we need to be able take it all in and process multiple things at once.
Great blog.

Dorien Grey said...

Good points, Katy, and I admire you. But I tend to be more like Kage, except that I never feel in control of anything.