Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thought Vectors: How a Thinkaholic Feels

Hi, my name is Yin and I'm a thinkaholic. 
(Check out concept and picture by Leah of Dharma Comics.)

This chronic malady has its side effects. I've thought and blogged about its "collateral damage" quite a bit some 7 years ago. Here's a paragraph from the post, Inner vs. Outside World, December 12, 2007 (on a private blog) about solo fantasy thinking:
Quite often--, my inner world is more exciting than the outside world as my mind races through a myriad of topics and imagine the possibilities for adventure. I contemplate on the prospects for learning new things and connecting with people if I did A, B, and C or put A and B together first, then work on C, etc. For this reason, I'm --mothballed if conversation topics lack a focus. In such times, I turn inward to my own thoughts to avoid being rude and seemingly inattentive. I still listen but I'm disengaged because I cannot follow the flow of the conversation as it jumps from P to M and then from N to S, etc. Much more exciting is my private world when I can write a short essay in my head in the span of time it takes to listen to a speaker belabor on a topic I have difficulty following.
When I'm conjuring up plans to learn something new (e.g. my next sketch, story to write, movie to watch, next travel destination, how to best have a stimulating mental duel with someone), I feel exhilarated and a tad anxious. (And guilty for stealth thinking if I'm thinking all these thoughts while on the surface paying attention to something else.) I also feel like Lucy entering Narnia (refer to C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia book series). The exploratory planning-think is magical, and I feel unstoppable with all my wild untamed thoughts, waiting to be connected and moulded into something new! Kahnmn likens this thinking process to engaging in Wikipedia wars (I learned something new!) and how fabulous it is.

The times when the light and joy goes out of my thinking are those moments when, sometimes, the unknown future and the known unpleasant memories of the past coalesce to become a menacing spirit. The more effort and time I spend trying to fashion some understanding of this intimidating specter, the more my nerves play tricks on me. A tight clamp fastens itself around my head -- I think myself literally into a headache.

These emotions are two extremes. Most of the time, I don't pay much attention to how I feel when I'm thinking. I mostly think like I breathe. Thinking has become a habit, a disposition I've cultivated. It's paradoxical. I relish the opportunities to think and synthesize thoughts. Yet, I sometimes take for granted that I am capable of clear thinking -- until I forget a memory and wonder, with mixed emotions, if I'm losing cognition. You see, I have a loved one who has dementia. Thinking about not having cognition is painful. Maybe that's why I think with such vengeance, knowing that there is an expiration date on thinking that leads to honest living, good work and service.

Gardner Campbell blogged about varieties of thinking, effortful and goal-free (mulling) thinking, and the experience of thinking. I definitely support the design of quality thinking experiences that results in positive change. Hence my advocacy for the Visible Thinking approach (TM President & Fellows of Harvard College)! Tom Woodward reminded me about groupthink and how it feels. The magic of improv in the production and staging of a play is something I sorely miss.

But thinking, whether painful, joyful, light or heavy-duty, is something uniquely human and precious. The mind is at once so powerful and delicate, a battlefield and a mushy mass of tissues. I am mostly grateful to feel how I think, headaches or not. Although being introspective has its delights, I sometimes like to get out of my own head, instead of watching how the missiles of my mind dart about, aptly illustrated by Leah of Dharma Comics:


Maryam Kaymanesh said...

I was honestly really entertained reading your post. You might be a thinkaholic but I think it makes you a very interesting person. I felt like you were a poet when you said, "But thinking, whether painful, joyful, light or heavy-duty, is something uniquely human and precious. The mind is at once so powerful and delicate, a battlefield and a mushy mass of tissues".

Yin Wah Kreher said...

Maryam, I'm glad you stopped by! Thank you for your kind words. Thinking a lot in imaginative ways and putting those thoughts into purposeful ways does enrich life. I read your post about how you feel when you think. What adventures thinking lead us to! BTW, I am a wannabe poet.;-)

Yin Wah Kreher said...
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