I guess you could say I have one of those at risk personalities, all the signs were there; pressure from the parents, high SAT scores, always in the advance classes in elementary school. I guess I just didn’t see the warning signs before it was too late. I mean, in the beginning, I only 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 really wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time. I began to think on the job, and you know where that can lead, especially when you work in the government.
Sure, I knew that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I just couldn’t stop myself. I began to avoid my friends at lunchtime so I could read Kundera and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, “What is it exactly that we’re doing here?”
Things weren’t going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the television and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother’s, and now her mother won’t even talk to me, she just gives me dirty looks and says “tsk, tsk…” while shaking her head.
Soon I had a reputation as a heavy thinker.
One day the boss called me in. He said, “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, and she began to cry. I’d had enough. “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 and ran up to the big glass doors… they didn’t open.
The library was closed. As I sank to the ground clawing at 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 Thinkers 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 “Spiderman 2”. Then we share experiences about how we’ve avoided thinking since the last meeting. I now have a new job, with a magazine called Think, I know that I am strongest around temptation, like how recovered alcoholics make the best bartenders, and things are a lot better at home.
Life just seemed… easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.