I like to call myself a freethinker, but what I really am, and have always been, is just a thinker.
When I talk about thinking, I am taking about something very specific. It isn’t the simple act of thinking about what I need at the grocery store type thinking that I mean, it is “why” thinking. As in, “Why is something the way it is?”
I find that I think all the time. I have a friend at work who said something similar in a way that really made an impression on me. He said that he only sleeps a few hours a night because his brain is always working and he can’t turn it off. I have always been the same way. In fact, if I didn’t take medication for my anxiety that just happens to have the added effect of being a sleeping aid, I would probably be up half the night as well because I can’t turn my brain off. I fact I know this to be the case because on the few times when I’ve run out of that medication I’ve spent most of the night awake with all the “whys” streaming through my head.
“What “whys” run through your head?”, you may ask. Of course there are the usual things I blog about; Does God exist?; How was the universe created?; “Are there intelligent creatures on planets around other stars?; Why do people listen to Rush Limbaugh?; Why is Hip Hop so popular?
And that last one is really more interesting and touches on what it means to be human in more ways that you might think.
All this thinking is hard, because it requires a lot of effort on my part, not to do the thinking, but to stop myself from thinking long enough to get anything actually done, like laundry, the dishes, or sleeping.
Unfortunately, I think the opposite is true of far too many other people. It is just too hard to actually do any real thinking. We are always told that most Americans have short attention spans and that they are too easily swayed by politicians and the media, but no answers seem to be given as to why this is so.
I think what we need is to make thinking fun. Game shows used to do a pretty good job of this, but these days even they seem to pander to the lowest common denominator. Video games would be a great place to put situations that require some real thinking and problem solving.
I wish I had a solution to this problem of the lack of opportunities for thinking, but it is something I am just going to have to spend a lot more time thinking about.