Thoughts on Thinking

A recent BBC News article No Time to Think? delves into the concept of thinking—specifically, how to carve out time during our busy days to actively engage in this philosophical pastime.

A few pointers offered include: use your lunch hour for quiet contemplation; go out for a walk and leave unfinished work at your desk; study water as it shimmers in the light; listen to classical music; write down what’s on your mind to develop your train of thought more clearly; or discuss it with another person, particularly someone who doesn’t necessarily agree with your line of reasoning (the challenge is the thing); unplug the TV or stop listening to the news for a few days; and strive to develop an understanding of the importance of thought. After all, the ability to think is what sets our species apart.

Thoreau allowed that we can recreate our inner man by engaging in active thought. “Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts,” he wrote in the concluding chapter of Walden. “If I were confined to a corner of a garret all my days, like a spider, the world would be just as large to me while I had my thoughts about me.”

This evening I pause to open the back window before climbing into bed. The night air is cool after the recent rains. Sounds of serenading insects drift in through the screen. In the upper corner of the window casing, I see a small spider transfixed in her web. I turn out the light and lie down on soft sheets, mesmerized by the entomological symphony outside.

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