Capturing Thought in Words… Or is it the Other Way Around?
…So it looks like it’s about time for a new post. I mean, it’s been like a whole six or seven days, depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re looking at. And it’s been a while since I’ve actually posted anything, which means GUILT COMPLEX!!!!!!!!!!
Something about October (and Autumn in general) where it seems like everything happens. There’s mid-terms, there’s advising (that was today- I still have no clue what I’m up against next semester, but it doesn’t look good), there’s tons of papers (another one coming up this week that I have to take care of), lots of useless assignments that we’ve all been stuck with for years, and then besides school (or work, but I can really only speak from the perspective from a poor starving college student) there’s always stuff going on with the family. Don’t kid yourself, there always is, whether we’re aware of it or not. When we are aware of it, we worry. When we aren’t, we find out and then worry AND feel guilty as all heck. And then when you’re not expecting it, you find your whole sewage system coming up through your toilets and bathtubs. Trust me, it’s been a great month.
But the funny thing is, in spite of everything, I’ve had more than enough time to think. There may be two things contributing to this:
1) I’ve been procrastinating all of my homework for forever, because I’m honestly pretty sick of it. I want to be riding horses or go sparring or paintballing or running or sleeping. Anything but what I’m supposed to be doing.
2) I CAN’T TURN MY BRAIN OFF!!!!!!!! In my Literature class we briefly discussed the difference in thoughts between first generation and second generation romantic poets (a.k.a., Wordsworth and Coleridge vs Keats, Byron, and Shelley. Ask someone much smarter than me). According to my professor the biggest difference is that for the First Generation, the Mind is a Mansion. For the Second, it’s a Prison. Random trivia, but useful to make my point. And it’s also appearing because I can’t quite concentrate enough to edit out my thoughts before they all come splurging out onto the internet. It’s one of those nights.
So in the time that I’ve spent thinking I’ve taken time to think about the problems with my kind of thinking. Here’s the short list.
- I think too much.
- I can’t stop what comes to my head from spewing out of my mouth. Very problematic. I think Jane Austen described Mrs. Allen as doing the same thing in Northanger Abbey. Which is a terribly frightening thought.
- I’m incredibly competitive.
I know the last one is bizarre, but let me explain. Most people in the world seem to be content to be good at one or two or three things. And they’re so good at them that they’re defined by it. Artists, singers, musicians, architects, poets, dancers, racers, actors… the list goes on forever. My problem is that I can’t stand not being good at something. But I think my brain only has so much space for learning different traits. So I’m decent at a lot of different things, but I’m not much more than decent at any of them. Perhaps it’s because to get much better at anything I would have to devote my life to it. And I just can’t do it. Take your pick of reasons. There’s a lot of them.
But here’s the bizarre thing: I think I must be a competitive thinker. If there’s such a thing, I think I’m one of them. And so my brain has learned to whirl faster and faster and make connections between as many different things as it can. Handy skill, except for the bit where I connect movie lines to deep philosophical type thoughts. And the part where all of my witty thoughts, lines, and concepts come spewing out of my mouth. Let’s face it, it’s pretty fun sometimes. For instance, at one point over the summer my brother and his wife came up to my mom’s place, where we were having a discussion about facial hair. By the by, I pretty much think that facial hair is kind of nasty.
Mom: I’ll love you no matter what.
Brother: So if I grow a beard then you’ll still love me?
Mom: Of course I would.
Me (long before I can even consider keeping my mouth shut): We’ll just love you less.
Fortunately my whole family is pretty easy-going, and they’re all pretty intelligent and quick-minded. Smarter and faster than I am, I think. So it went by just fine. That’s kind of one of the fun moments that I have when I’m feeling pretty quick-witted. And fortunately most people are kind enough to put up with it, whether they get sick of it or not. My roommates are fabulously patient with my excessive smart remarks.
But then earlier this week I was just feeling miserable about this whole thing. I was thinking that this was why I will always be single, because there is no one who really seems to think the way that I do, and no one seems to be as ruthless and cold as me. Or if they are, then why would I want to be with them? And why would anyone who isn’t that ruthless and cold want to be with me? And why does it feel like every single word that comes out of my mouth is harsh, cruel, nasty, and uncaring? I keep thinking that I’m just being funny, but what if I’m not? What then? What if I’m really hurting people, and I’m too insensitive and wrapped up inside my own head to even begin to see it?
Okay, so I realize that statistically speaking, this is pretty much impossible. Out of the six or seven BILLION people on the planet, I’m pretty sure there’s a pretty large group of people who think the same way that I do. About a lot of things. And I realize that in general, I’m not (or at least I really hope I’m not) a terribly cold, harsh, mean person. If I am, slap me. But at that point it didn’t matter what logic and statistics and COMMON SENSE told me; that’s how it felt, so that’s how it was. I feel, therefore I am. Something along those lines, anyhow.
Well, then I got smart and starting thinking more about it, in different ways than I had been. And oddly enough, my Literature class came to the rescue.
I was supposed to have read some stuff by Ralph Waldo Emerson last week. Like, by Friday. I started, but I didn’t really get very far. That was about the point that I was interrupted by the sewage system rebelling, so I spent the night at a friend’s house. Mostly because I knew her plumbing would work and that her whole house wouldn’t smell. Thank goodness for roommates, who yell at the landlord and call in a plumber that will come at odd hours of the night to fix the stupid system.
But I realized that Emerson thinks like…well, me. He’s probably more optimistic than I am, I admit. But he’s kind of someone that I can see thinking about something for extensive periods of time until he’s come up with a reasonable solution that makes sense to him, whether there’s any outer evidence supporting it or not. Sounds an aweful lot like me. And I could swear that he comes to a lot of the same conclusions that I do. Or I’m at least willing to accept his hypotheses. And I also have to respect him hugely for the profound and poetic thoughts that he puts on paper, that sound simple and deep, or simple and awe-inspiring. Seriously, how many other authors can you really think of who would even consider describing leafless trees as spires of flame in the sunset, or who talks about the Glory of God being found in the stars? Simple, beautiful, powerful. I very much doubt that I could aspire to that, but there’s the odd chance that I could have my moment.
But realizing that I seem to have something in common with what I think is a beautiful writing style and a fabulous mind is strangely comforting in some profoundly humbling way.
I haven’t even come close to finishing reading his works. I wonder if he’s really as good as I keep thinking that he is.