Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Thinking

(repost of this from november--I've been thinking a lot lately and it is getting out of control...)

Thinking

It started out innocently enough.

I began to think at parties now and then -- to loosen up.

Inevitably, though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.

I began to think alone -- "to relax," I told myself -- but I knew it wasn't true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time. That was when things began to sour at home.

One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of
life. She spent that night at her mother's.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don't mix, but I couldn't stop myself. I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here? " One day the boss called me in. He said, "Listen, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don't stop thinking on the job, you'll have to find another job." This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss.

"Honey," I confessed, "I've been thinking..."

"I know you've been thinking," she said, "and I want a divorce!"

"But Honey, surely it's not that serious."

"It is serious," she said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much as college
professors, and college professors don't make any money, so if you keep on
thinking, we won't have any money!"

"That's a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently.

She exploded in tears of rage and frustration, but I was in no mood to deal with the emotional drama.

"I'm going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche.

I roared into the parking lot with NPR on the radio and ran up to the big glass doors...They didn't open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.

Leaning on the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker's Anonymous poster.

Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker.

I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was "Porky's."

Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting. I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home.

Life just seemed...easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.

I think the road to recovery is nearly complete for me.

Today, I registered to vote as a Republican.

8 comments:

brainwise said...

Bwah ha haaaw! I missed this the first time around. I know what you mean about thinking on the job. During my last review, I was told I "lack initiative." Well, of course my supervisor would think that ... I'm only motivated to get to my next break to read more non-job books and think more non-job thoughts!

Thivai Abhor said...

Brainwise,

I've had plenty of those jobs... that's why I chose the profession that I did, now I spend all of my work time chasing my intellectual interests... the pay isn't the greatest, but what the hell, some things are greater than money (am I trying to convince myself...)

When I worked various construction/labor jobs from the time I was 16-24, I used to always get hassled because I would read books on my lunch break.

brainwise said...

Thivai,

I, too, have had jobs that didn't require any more thought than what was necessary to drag myself on site and smile for the customers.

However ...

My current day job is technical writing. For a sizeable software firm. So you can, I imagine, see my supervisor's dilemna in his assessment of me: "C'mon man ... you gotta apply yourself more ... get even better at your craft ... rise in the company..."

I actually asked him, pretty much point blank, "What if one does not wish to 'rise in the company'?" He looked at me as though I had three heads. (And maybe I do ... but I only shave one of them, so I'm not too concerned).

You see, the unfortunate(?) thing is that, I no longer have an interest in the product. And I am rapidly approaching a palpable disdain for the market this firm services.

So ... I think on the job ... but not of the job. I've been doing technical writing (I don't want to say I *am* or *have been* a technical writer) since 1991. I sort of fell into it.

And I never really gave a thought to what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I guess I am thinking about it now ... while trying to avoid a pink slip.

Susannity! (Susanne) said...

I remember this post b4 and loved it, and you popped it back to me at the most opportune time! My father sent me another "bash democrats/republican rule" email. Guess what he got in reply? =P

Susannity! (Susanne) said...

On the serious side, I wanted to let you know that even though the post is facetious, it really is true. Other than certain folks I've had dialogue with in the blogosphere, most people I know do not like to think too heavily or have deep discussions. My husband is the main person with whom I do and we do it almost all the time. We have met one other couple that also does. But even people I know with advanced degrees don't seem to want to think or discuss topics deeply. I thought, they must be passionate about something I don't know, but the more I get to know them, I find that not to be true. It is just totally weird to me. A funny story happened just the other day to my husband. He is in a deep thinking job and he went to lunch with a couple of his peers. He told me that partway through lunch, one of his cohorts said to him "wow, my brain hurts!" He told my husband he had never met anyone who could drill so deeply effortlessly as my husband can. My darling husband thanked me for keeping his mind sharp with our constant brain-challenging discussions. But I do think he is correct, if you are used to doing it, it comes much easier. Anyway, it was another interesting coincidence with your post. =)

Thivai Abhor said...

Brainwise,

I almost became a technical writer in the early 90s. The attraction was that I could do my work and still have creativity to spare )besides a sweet wage), the disadvanta, was that I thought it would drive me crazy (normal type of crazy).

I remember working for a very large multi-state, family owned, art business and all of the muckety-mucks were gathered for a big annual dinner. I was, of course, late because I didn't care about impressing these people I despised (there total erasure of any concern for aesthetics or creativity--I know it was a business, but still they dealt in art). When I arrived vice-presidents came up and introduced themselves saying that they had to meet the legendary person who would arrive to work whenever he wanted and laugh at the owner when he would complain about something (I guess the owner was renowned for his difficult personality).

I had wanted them to fire me because of their lack of interest/knowledge in/about the art they dealt. So I routinely showed up late and acted insubordinate... but because I cared about the art, could talk to the artists, cared enough to repair the art, and was very good at selling it, they desperately wanted me to stay, no matter how strange and insubordinate I became. Eventually I had to quit, they were draining my soul/spirit...

Thivai Abhor said...

Susanne,

I feel good knowing that you and your husband are out there.

I know 25 people (yeah, I counted them--from living in ten different places--working over two dozen different types of jobs--and attending/working at eight universities/colleges--four of them are students this semester, who make me happy to show up to their class because they challenge me to think) who are actively questioning, critical type thinkers. The problem is that nearly two-thirds of them are spread across this continent, but I value each and everyone of them... for the moments when we talk, write, and meet to exchange ideas.

Likewise, I value the friends I have made online who through their passionate convictions and critical thought have kept me going when I was much more isolated here in this strange place (I'm still somewhat isolated here, but since I decided I would be living here those meaningful connections have begun to appear).

I think there are so many people who may feel this type of disconnect from people who care about what is going on in the world and want to change it for the better--I'm listening for them...

Thivai Abhor said...

Oh yeah Susanne, glad I could help you out with the email exchange with your father ;) the "thinking" thing is parody, but as with all parodies, there is an underlying truth to the reality of those who insist on questioning and thinking...