As I prep presentation material for Atlantic Canada’s first Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention course for addiction clinicians, I’ve been tweaking the following story. I’ve taken liberties with the plainer version, which was found somewhere on the internet. It is an amusing diversion.
This all started out innocently enough, as they often do. At a few holiday parties I began to think, just to loosen up. No harm done, right? To my surprise, I found I could get along with others better. Inevitably, though, one thought led to another and soon I was more than just a social thinker. People began to whisper.
I can’t remember when I began to think alone. “To relax,” I told myself but I knew it wasn’t true. Before long I was thinking all the time. I even began to think on the job. People told me that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I couldn’t stop myself. Even when I wasn’t thinking, I found myself thinking.
I would avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Karl Marx on my own. They wouldn’t understand I’d tell myself. As if I did. I would return to the office with my head throbbing, asking, “What is it exactly we are doing here again?” I didn’t notice the questioning glances.
Things weren’t going so great at home, either. One evening I abruptly turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother’s. That’s when I found the best time to think at home was when everyone else was asleep. Soon I had a quite a reputation as a heavy thinker.
One day the boss called me in. He said, “Billy-Bob you’ve been here awhile and I like you. Now 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 left early to do some serious thinking.
I came home after my conversation with the boss. “Honey,” I confessed, “I’ve been thinking…” “Tell me something I don’t know! I know you’ve been thinking behind my back,” she said, “and I want a divorce!” “But, honey, surely it’s not that serious! I know my limits.” “Just try telling that to our kids who are being teased at school ‘cause of you. It IS serious,” she said, lower lip aquiver. “You think about as much as an unemployed engineer driving a taxi, and last I heard, taxi drivers don’t make any money. So if you keep on thinking this way, we’ll be in the poor house!”
“What a load of rubbish,” I said impatiently, “That’s a faulty syllogism”. She began to cry. I’d had enough. “I’m going out! I need to think!” I snarled as I slammed the door. I knew just where to go – the library! I was so worked up I was ready for some deep dark Nietzsche. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors. Ah, freedom! To my horror they didn’t open. The doors were locked. The library was closed! Stupid holiday! All the other public thinking establishments were closed, too.
To this day, I believe that someone mighty was looking out for me. As I sank to the ground, banging at the glass, whimpering for a taste of Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye: ‘Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?’ it asked.
You probably recognize that line. It is responsible for what I am today, that’s right, a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video. Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting, what worked and what didn’t. I still have my job. Heck, not long after I stopped thinking, I got that promotion I had been waiting so long for. Things are a lot better at home where I don’t have to sleep on the couch and the kids want to spend time with me. Just the other day my daughter gave me a hug and said “Daddy, you smell better. No longer like musty old books!” Life just seems easier, somehow, once I found the courage to stop thinking. Please remember my story the next time you start to rely on thinking to solve any of your problems. You know better, as now do I.