Wednesday, May 18, 2011


The little golden-haired moppet of the children's classic had to deal with a series of three choices: too much of something, not enough of it, and just the right amount. When it comes to thinking, people tend to resemble Goldilocks' first two choices; while just the right amount of thinking is a bit hard to define, probably the majority of people either do not think at all, or think too little. And--a problem Goldilocks never had--a very few tend to think too much.

Not thinking at all has its advantages. It's definitely the path of least resistance. There are always a lot of people around who are more than happy to do your thinking for you. Not sure what your political stand is on any given issue? Listen to the self appointed pundits. Don't let the fact that while they themselves don't have a clue of what they're talking about, every one of them has their own personal agenda involving you feeding their egos, ambitions, and bank accounts. Don't give it a thought. Just do what they say and think what they tell you to think. They must know what they're talking about, or they wouldn't be on TV or writing articles, right? So just go along in whatever direction they point you and never, never ask questions.

The same is true with those saintly folk we see every Sunday morning, telling us where to send our love offerings. They are on a first-name basis with God and thereby have the right to tell us what is right and what is wrong--and I've noticed there seems to be a lot more wrong than there is right. And while they see it as their duty to tell you what to believe and whom to love they are quick to tell you whom you may not love. While there are differences in approach, the one thing pundits, politicians and pastors share is their single-minded duty to tell you whom to hate.

Hate is an awesome thing! It gives power to those who feel they are powerless; it gives a sense of superiority over the hated; it allows us to vent all those deep, undefined insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. It is much, much easier to hate when you are unencumbered by the need for truth or logic or facts, and do not think for one second that those who treat you like a Pavlov's dog or a marionette on the end of a string are not acutely aware of what they're doing and why. But the best thing about hate is that it requires absolutely no thought.

While most people fall into only one of the four categories listed at the beginning--not thinking at all, not thinking enough, thinking normally, or thinking too much--if I were to make a pie chart of how I divvy up the four, not thinking at all would probably be just a bit larger than not thinking enough, followed by thinking too much. Thinking normally would be the smallest piece by far. My tendency to simply not think at all before I do something is the story of my life. It occurs to me to do something--figuratively jumping off a cliff into a pond, say--I do it and only find out after I've hit the water that it is only three inches deep. But do I learn? Nope. It's back up the cliff for another jump. (Hey, maybe it's a lot deeper a little to the left.)

I spend far, far too much time trying to undo mistakes than I do actually accomplishing anything.

Almost as bad as not thinking at all is not thinking enough. ("Okay," I'll tell myself, "all I have to do is this, this, and this." And that's as far as it goes. I don't spend any time on really thinking about what "this" entails, and what I'll do if it doesn't do what I expect it to do.) And often, when whatever I'd set out to do doesn't work, I'm not sure which "this" I did wrong.

I also have a tendency to over-think. I will decide that this time I'm going to have everything figured out before I start. But then I get anxious to get on with it, and the questions start rushing in, and I start wandering off in a dozen different directions and am pummeled by "yeah, but" and "how do I handle it if..." And as a result, I either abandon the project entirely or just climb back up the cliff and jump in.

Goldilocks had it easy.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

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