The process of thinking, or intellection, has always been a significant source of enjoyment for me.
From almost as far back as I can remember, I have looked forward to uninterrupted chunks of time where I could simply go into my head and think. Even as a young child, information from the day had to be processed, analyzed and digested before I could sleep. Of course my thoughts, in keeping with my world, were less expansive when I was six. Nonetheless, I spent a lot of time in my head, thinking, planning, daydreaming and imagining.
Fast forward to today, and my life-long thinking habit has become honed to exquisite perfection. Sequestering myself in my bubble to think may appear to others as a huge waste of time. I disagree. Although it may look like there’s nothing going on from the outside, there is in fact a whirlwind of cognitive activity going on within the private confines of my inner landscape. The rewards can be tangible. Problems are identified and analyzed, turned upside down and sideways, and scrutinized from all possible angles until a solution is found. Introspection guides the way toward newly gained self-knowledge. And insight, always sudden and always enlightening, often comes to visit, illuminating the path ahead.
And there are creative benefits as well. Writing assignments are conceived, laid-out, mentally written and scrutinized before fingers ever hit keyboard. Poetry is often borne out of free-flowing thought, leaving only the task of transcribing from right-brain to paper. Even paintings can be imagined, colours mixed, and final product envisioned long before reaching for a paint brush. And a mind that takes the time to see can re-design an entire room and visualize it down to the smallest detail without ever touching a thing or being anywhere near the space. Time spent thinking, planning and imagining at the front-end, very often pays off in time saved in the long-run.
I have no doubt that being the owner of an inward-focussed and introverted personality has influenced my life-long bent for copious mental activity. And as I note above, I mostly think it’s a good thing. Who wouldn’t want a rich and inviting inner landscape where anything is possible. Where you can be entertained endlessly, imagine the unimaginable, visualize the unseen, and find answers lurking behind questions. Where else can you escape the mundane and travel to places found nowhere in this world but within your own creative mind. Reality pales in comparison.
And that’s the problem right there.
For those of us inclined to favour the inner landscape, there is a price to be paid. For all its luster, appeal and conceptual magic, the things that transpire in our own minds remove us from the concrete reality of life. Time spent strolling through our inner gardens, as beautiful as they may be, is time spent not living a life. They are moments stolen away from the here and now.
The here and now, a concept that I have rarely consciously thought about in the past, has become more important to me of late. I have come to a realization that when you are not paying attention to the things going on around you, time sprints forward, leaving you in its dust, lagging behind and wondering where it went. People around you change, they grow older, they get sick, and you wonder how it happened. How you never noticed. You look around and wonder how its possible that the young trees you planted, not so long ago, have now grown tall and mature. And when you ask yourself how long it has been since you have spoken to a certain loved one, you are shocked that so much time has slipped by unnoticed because you weren’t paying attention.
It’s easy to get seduced by a mind that offers up endless fascinations, that beckons us to enter and cajoles us into staying longer than we should. And it’s a challenge to ignore the thinking mind that is endlessly vying for attention. Yet, lest we find ourselves waking up one day wondering where time went, and indeed where our lives went, it seems to me that we had better be prepared to give some focussed attention to the things going on around us.
Right here and right now.