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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Monday, October 9, 2023

On my countdown/count up board today, I wrote Think Less.

Which sounded like a terrible thing to say so I tried to rephrase it.

Think less about everything.

Which sounded even worse.

As I raked over a couple of words that would express the sentiment, I decided that Think less about things that you don’t need to be thinking about because they are pointless and obsessive and you can’t plan everything anyway so just chill out would be too long for a countdown/count up board so I left my original words and figured I’d have to remember the intent.

Since I won’t, I then figured I’d write about it here, which really means that for those two simple words I had to do quite a lot of thinking and then take a nap.

That’s the thing about thinking. It is actually quite exhausting. Given how much effort it takes and how draining it is, it should really burn more calories.

Isn’t your brain the most energy-hungry part of your body? And yet it does nothing to work off that crumb cake I made. Seems like a failure of evolution.

Anyway, there is some irony in thinking about thinking. Thinking about your brain thinking about itself is the Möbius Strip of cognition.

Sometimes you have to think. It’s the only way to remember whether you added the vanilla to the crumb cake and it’s the only way that a blog about the merits of tension bushings gets written. Write enough of those and your brain will hurt and you’ll need a nap, too.

But sometimes you don’t have to think, and your brain suddenly doesn’t know what to do with itself so it starts thinking about how in high school when that little twit accused you of flirting with her boyfriend, you really should have said something clever and snappy instead of just I wasn’t and slinking off. And then you have to spend the rest of the afternoon coming up with those clever, snappy things until some point when you realize the whole exercise is idiotic.

Sometimes my brain makes up entire scenarios that don’t exist. Like, what happens if I forget to add the vanilla to the crumb cake and it doesn’t turn out very well? Then Ralph will tell me it’s ok but it’s missing something and I will say oh yeah, well next time YOU make it since you never forget ANYTHING and then he will get mad at me and say Oh yeah, well who left the Yeti cooler in the DRIVEWAY, and we’ll have to fight for a while and then we won’t have fun at the next opera.

It could happen.

But probably not, along with the thousand other things I think about in a day.

Sometimes I plan an entire week in my head before I even finish frying the bacon on Sunday. Not just plan the week, but plan exactly what I’ll say in response to every imaginary conversation I may have with Ralph or my clients or the guy at the coffee shop. I plan which dish I will wash first, and then plan what I’ll do if I drop the dish and it breaks, or if Ralph asks for toast and I need the dish, in which case it would be pointless to put it away so I should just wash it and leave it out.

I think up scenarios about what I’ll do if we go to the coffee shop and they’re out of Jasmine tea or what plan B is if the coffee shop is too full. I have imaginary conversations where I yell at the person who doesn’t park in the lines and takes up two spots. At which point I have to decide if I will punch that person and whether it would be wise since I will probably get arrested for assault, and what would I do if I had to go to jail? I’m claustrophobic as it is, what would I do if I had to sit in a cell? So I think about how I’d have to take up meditation and be like a monk and refuse to eat, which might be good for my diet, anyway. I already have my court defense lined up for when that happens.

Occasionally, or maybe often, I will think about how I’ll march down to the golf course at 4AM and stand in front of the beeping truck and demand to know what they’re doing. I think about what I’ll say and what they’ll say and how I will berate them for disturbing the peace. I think of many clever, snappy things to say and then feel bad for being so mean because they’re just some dumb guys driving trucks so they can make money to support their families. Which means that I then feel guilty for thinking the things I’ll never do or say, so I have to think about something nicer.

And that usually involves thinking about crumb cake, which is not the worst thing, if you think about it.

Photo: look at that beautiful thing! It tasted as good as you think it did.