Monday, December 14, 2009

Thinking outside the T-shirt

In an age where history is recorded on T-shirts, the very notion of dwelling on the deep structure of an experience has come to appear both arcane and archaic.

Thomas Harrison
Quick! There are only 96 shopping days left till Spring.

One month ago I fell off of the Internet and couldn't get back on until some unknown friends came through with a computer that works. During the 6 weeks I was off I had to do a lot of thinking, planning.and reorganizing of my life.

Some people would say "So you had computer trouble, so what? Big deal. What a shame. Why all the drama?" The big deal is that it allowed me, it prompted me to figure out what I wanted or needed with this form of communication. I could examine the paradoxes of the instant space travel of words, friendship among people who've never met and know little about, the sharing of sorrows, joys and important details of personal lives with total strangers.

When I wasn't spending hours on the phone dealing with a technician who couldn't figure out and solve the problem, I was introspecting about those things. With little but household chores and occasional trips to the market to interrupt me the lamp of investigation was always lit. When it was finally determined that the problem was the computer and that therefore no correction was going to happen, I settled down to read and think. With an unfinished painting staring at me and a pile of necessary but not crucial papers stacked up on my desk I opened the door to aloneness, the place where one discovers one's strength and self-understanding. In so many ways solitude is the best psychiatrist in the world. Emerging from the autumnal quiet and facing another winter without being able to communicate with people I found how much my writing and reading had temporarily covered my real life with effects as a carpet covers a floor or clothes the body. Neither the effects nor the covering are wrong but they need to be seen as covers and now and then the body underneath needs to be exposed to oneself. It is very easy to define oneself and one's life by what we do, whether it's a job or a hobby. But to define one's own mind by the unnecessary effects of what we do is a strange tunnel vision which doesn't appear to be harmful. After all in order to do anything well we have to think about it, don't we.

But I find it is also true abut thinking. The fact is that we really never think about the most important thing which is thinking itself. It seems to be one of the most paradoxical things of all to observe and understand thinking itself. Not "What am I thinking about?" or "What am I thinking?" but "Why am I thinking?" and "Of what does my thinking consist?"

Another paradox is that as we make the mental effort to understand our thinking the process of thinking itself seems to retreat like trying to grab a puff of smoke.

I didn't arrive at any definitive conclusions about that process but I did gain some understanding of thinking itself, surprises revealed themselves. We know that what we think affects our lives, but how and what form of thinking produces what results, were the questions I was led to ask myself. Is there a science involved? There certainly seems to be a provable theory of scientific fact on a limited and everyday level, but to what extent can that theory be taken and to what extremes if the thinker is really thinking.

In fact, this all may be archaic and arcane. But I don't think so and you can't put it on a T-shirt.

DB - The Vagabond
May a warm sun soon shine on your head.


Gerry said...

I have long thought that emotion is the enemy of thought. You will see a person making progress with their thinking and then suddenly the thinking will be overwhelmed with some kind of anger, prejudice, and you can just see the thinking derailed. The train of thought has wrecked and then I am always thinking, what happened here, let us see if we can figure out the words to say to get this intrigueing train of thought back on track. It was going so well. I must say this entry was an amazingly long and beautiful journey of thought to me. I thought now this guy is a real thinker, but I know what detrails us when we are old. A health problem can so easily become an obssession, so all the time is spent going over and over that terrain and getting nowhere. Fascinating stuff, this trying to keep the thinking going, there is more to say about that than room to say it!

Maire said...

Dear Wonderful DB~
I have been very slack on reading/commenting on my very wonderful internet friends blogs, to include yours. I was determined today to catch up, and your post touched me so deeply, on many levels.
I agree that solitude can be very healing; in my case, it can also be a self imposed prison. Your words inspired a wisdom & point of view not considered.
Hugs, Maire

René said...

Hi DB, Great blog. I am starving for aloneness to do my thinking but no luck. My daughter is a clinger. You have plenty of time to read and think, lucky you, I guess.

Lisa said...

Although you had your time to think & refresh I am happy you are back online again. I am hoping to be around more....hoping. ;)

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Time for true reflection is a gift, so you are now a very rich man :o)

Beth said...

I find it very difficult to be "unconnected." However, rediscovering the simple joy of being immersed in a book makes for a wonderful experience, and never gets old!

Rose~* said...

Glad you are back on-line, DB. I have been enjoying your very thoughtful posts and wonderful words again. Busy over here with Christmas stuff, but please know that I will always stop in for a spell when able.