I DON'T KNOW HOW TO THINK
Tuesday 31st, January 2023
There this bit in Purity of Heart by Krill that goes like this.
You ever tried To just think one thought To think it all straight Think it a lot Think it all though And see where you get And when you arrive Think it again
It's a good verse. It gets at something. But it fucks me up. Because I don't think I can relate, I don't know that I've ever had this experience of sitting with a thought long enough to really feel it out, follow it where it goes and end up somewhere new.
I climb a lot, I go bouldering a couple times a week. It's a sport that requires reading routes and pretty careful consideration of body position to reach the top of more difficult climbs. It's very mental. But I'll jump off the wall and my best guess says that my mind has been entirely blank for the past 60 seconds. And I think I spend most of my life this way. There's a thing I need to do, I do it pretty much on instinct, I move on.
I almost never slow down to look beyond myself and take in the full breadth of things around me. It means I don't reply to friends for weeks. It means I leave projects unfinished for years. It means I've been in the same job for 7 years with no real career plan. It's not blocking me from the very next thing I need to do, so it doesn't exist.
Now, part of this is probably down to undiagnosed ADHD. Big swing to self-diagnose like that I know but, looking at my lived experience and how the things that help people with diagnosed ADHD also help me, I'm happy to work within this model. Anyway, put something in front of me and I'll crack it but the less tangible something is, the harder it is for me to actually wrestle with it. I'll let friendships whither on the vine because if it's not right there it doesn't doesnt exist.
I'm just now at age 28 coming to terms with how my brain works and realising that there are things I can do to make it work better for me. For the past 10 years or so I've just been going with the flow, which is fine, but I'm now looking back and wondering how different things would have been if I had the capacity to think outside of the room im in. To really think about something.
I suppose I do think a lot (this piece has been on my mind for months) but it's never a thing I spend time on. Every couple of weeks, some insight will present itself to me, untethered to any conscious effort and I think that's what bothers me about my brain, that I just have to leave it to churn through stuff until it's ready to offer it up. I think I need a better method of fishing around in there.
In the introduction to his writing journal Ross Sutherland says:
"Thinking and writing have become so intertwined, that pluck the pen from my hand and I can barely think at all. Ask me my opinion on the news headlines, or what i want from my short pointless life - I'll stare back at you bewildered. But put the pen back in my hand and OK... I'll hit upon some train of thought that I seemingly had no access to otherwise."
And, at last, I think that's where this site comes in. The problem isn't that I don't know how to think, it's that I never let myself. I'm constantly listening to music or watching something or otherwise consuming stuff so I never slow down and give myself the space to do it consciously.
When I started this piece I was having a crisis about the fact that I never use my brain and now, after all that, I've realised its the exact same reason that I created this site in the first place. That I DO think, but its not by rotating my brain cubes. It's by writing and rewriting and talking and actively churing up all the silt in my head, to see what's underneath.
I'm honestly kind of pissed off I just re-learned in real time that this is how I do it. That I can't go around expecting the thought to happen. You gotta put in the work!
But, shit, that's the process in action I guess. I did it!