Sunday 14 February 2016

#141 Great minds think a little

I've always been a thinker. I get it from my mother. You might not notice that she's thinking something but she will be. At university, one of the other students wrote about me in our yearbook, "Dan often looks like he's sat there doing nothing but don't be fooled, he's constantly considering where the next free BBQ's going to come from".

At army cadets when I was sixteen, there were hourly fag breaks which were known as "naffies". I would observe these breaks and stand with the other teens, watching them smoke, joke and swear. I never opened my own mouth though, not for words or cigarettes. The other boys later confessed that they'd taken me for stupid, until written tests were sat and it became apparent that I wasn't.

When I was eleven, I attended a friend's birthday party where at one point, the other children were running around outside. It was a sunny day and I remember wanting just to sit quietly by myself on a grassy bank, which I did for a minute. My friends kept coming over though and asking if everything was ok. They couldn't understand why I was happy alone with my thoughts and I didn't feel like I could satisfactorily explain it so I got up and played with them.

A stream of consciousness is a curious thing. Raw. At times nonsensical. Relatively unedited. Sometimes I'll get asked what I'm thinking and I'll need a moment to try and work it out before answering. When writing or speaking, we do well to capture certain elements of our thoughts and to process them, as a manufacturer might take a mud-covered sugar cane and produce from it sweet, sparkly granules.

There are those who scarcely audit what they say or write. I'm not knocking that. Talk to such people if you want honest feedback, some of them seem not to be able to give any other kind.

Is thinking too much a bad thing? The question answers itself. A thinker's friends, family and colleagues will give signals if they suspect there's some over-thinking going on, which is useful... At least, I think it is... Probably... Is it always useful though?... How can we be sure?... What if it isn't?...

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