The Inverse Correlation Between Thinking and Participating

Bekka, a precocious high school student from the Bay Area, has a beautiful post up about her bouts with depression. I am blessed to be in a state where I do sing zip-a-dee-doo-dah in the shower, but this particular paragraph resonated with me. The more you think about a subculture, I learned while analyzing the high school social scene, the less a participant you become.

April showers went about their business conceiving soon-to-be May flowers today, and my cat and I spent the day dozing under blankets and heaters as the sky flashed shades of gray and the plants outside the window thrashed in the rain. Waking up to the dark, foreboding sky, while wrapped in my dry, warm comforter seemed unnatural. I could see the rain but I couldn’t feel it. I could see the trees being tossed helplessly against each other and the window but I couldn’t hear them. Putting the world on mute but watching seemed wrong, like I was missing something precious. I’d gotten that same, vacated feeling while watchign people through restaurant windows. Inside, I can see tables outside, people chatting, laughing, couples kissing, mothers tugging childrens’ hands on the sidewalk, but it’s all silently remote. Instead of the accented chuckles and clank of dropped silverware that I see exhibited before me I hear hushed music eminating from the ceiling. After years and years of wanting in, wanting some greater insight, wanting to take advantage of the weird, bookish caricature I was born into, I’ve made a move from the world around me to the one in my head, watching, forgetting to, or even how to participate, watching through self-constructed windows but not feeling the atmosphere beyond them. I’m in. I’m in and I think too much, too much about things that don’t need to be thought about, too much about the why and wherefore, too much about eloborate escapist schemes, too much about justification and neuroscience, too much about the genius behind song lyrics and novels, too much about thinking.

5 Responses to The Inverse Correlation Between Thinking and Participating

  1. Bekka says:

    You flatter me, Ben. :P

  2. In high school, I hung out with the intellectuals who read Hermann Hesse and Alan Watts. The jock and Key Club subcultures were alien to me.

    I would say that living inside one’s head is a portal to depression, and thinking about thinking is a sure prescription for unhappiness.

    I ‘think’ many people who take drugs to ‘treat’ depression would do better to ‘take’ some Buddhism.

    I would prescribe the Noble Eightfold Path.

    I find that when I’m ‘doing’, the ‘thinking’ takes care of itself.

    As Ram Dass so succinctly put it, it’s best to “Be Here Now”.

  3. Shefaly says:

    The much discussed knowing-doing gap at work? I wonder what – or whether – academic researchers think about this…

  4. Franklin says:

    This also resonates with me.

    As a salsa dancing enthusiast, I’ve often tormented myself about how much time I should devote to “thinking” versus “just dancing”.

    I find that temporary moments of inactivity (thinking) in which I simply listen to music and analyze others, make me a better “participant” (dancer) later on.

  5. Martha Farag says:

    For some reason this reminded me of what autistics must go through.

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