When I think about my wife and children I feel warmth, attachment, satisfaction. When I think about my email inbox I feel overwhelmed – always. When I think about impressive works of writing, art, film, I have feelings of admiration, at other times envy, and the best feeling is that of inspiration. These are all emotional responses to situations and/or ponderings I suppose. It’s not the kind of thinking that I find goes with trying to create something, solve a problem, and/or write like I am now! For those situations in which I am using my thoughts and trying to articulate them into a particular activity that requires in my mind a fair amount of focus, I admit, I feel nothing.
It’s more of a feeling of detachment really, a space that I can enter and actually lose awareness of what is going on around me. A favorite example has to be one from when I was in high school working on Geometry or Pre-Calculus homework at the kitchen table. Behind me on the stove were long string beans steaming/boiling in a bit of water – at least they were – because now the room was filling with smoke and becoming acrid. And my mother a floor above and a hallway away had noticed this first, screaming my name, yelling what’s burning! And suddenly drawn out of my problem set in my book, I felt wow, how the heck did I not notice that. What is wrong with me? Feelings of guilt, ineffectualness.
So thinking associated with doing is sensationless to me. But thinking that is contemplative, there are infinite possible feelings. Which ultimately really must be a good thing – to not just do, do, do, without pausing, reflecting, and being distracted – as that thinking can lead to light hearted thoughts, compassionate thoughts, whimsical thoughts.
Or more likely a pause in writing this blog post for example, leads to an awareness of the train passing outside my window, which leads to thoughts of the subway and then the crowds, and then maddening task of getting from one place to another in New York City. And again the email inbox! Feelings of defeat then arise, TOO MUCH ALL THE TIME!!!
I’m looking forward to participating as much as I can in Gardner Campbell’s Thought Vectors in Concept Space open course. I had the pleasure of meeting Gardner once in New York City after he gave a talk at Baruch College on Digital Citizenship – A Modest Proposal for Curriculum Reform. One of my favorite ruminations of that talk was the need to support the development of adaptive capability in our students’ education, which he visualized with Gromit’s ability to build a train track in front of himself while traveling at full-speed.
The five readings that are part of the class look particularly interesting to make and I plan to post my nugget response to Vannever Bush’s As We May Think soon.