Lately I’ve been finding myself deep in thought.
Now before those of you who know me say, “So what’s new?” this kind of thinking is different. Usually I’m constantly taking things in, making connections, predicting, thinking ahead, planning, preparing, prepping, readying myself for whatever comes next. The past couple days, however, I’ve noticed that I get so drawn into myself – my head – that whatever I’m doing is (almost literally) put on autopilot. I lose track of my surroundings (except for the bare minimum needed to keep me alive :P). My thoughts wander, sometimes stop on a particular subject for a while, then move on to other things. They are all connected: one thing makes me think of another which brings up another, different yet related, thought.
I’ve noticed it while I’m driving. From home to school. From work to home. From Starbuck’s to Dustin’s. Pretty much anytime I’m in the car by myself. I kind of like it, actually, because I feel like I’m listening to myself more than everything and everyone around me. Obviously I’ve had an extremely hard time doing the former, and way too much practice with the latter.
The unconscious is a funny thing. I really want to read this book. Speaking of books, I’m roughly halfway through What The Dog Saw and it is every bit as good as I’d hoped. I’m currently on a chapter entitled “The Art of Failure.” In it, Gladwell talks about explicit learning versus implicit learning. Basically, explicit learning is learning that takes place with your conscious effort, and implicit learning is learning that takes place outside your awareness. Eventually, what you learn explicitly becomes implicit –> you no longer have to think about it when you do it. For instance, while watching the Olympics did you ever say to yourself, “Wow, he/she makes (insert favorite sport or event here) look so easy!” I know I did. Hours and hours of explicit learning allowed those athletes to embed the skills and knowledge of his or her sport or event into their minds. Eventually, they don’t have to think about what they’re doing – it is implicit.
Gladwell describes a match at Wimbledon in which one player had an apparent, easy win over another to win the championship. And she starting fumbling, throwing bad serves, missing hits, miscalculating angles. The pressure of the match got to her and she choked. She reverted back to her explicit learning, i.e. she began thinking about each movement, trying to anticipate, and failed miserably.
I recognized this scenario in my own life. I do it everyday. I think so hard about what I have to do, what might happen, what I could do, how different options affect me, constantly trying to decide what is “the best” way to go. I don’t let my unconscious take over because I’m too afraid, and I haven’t learned that it’s okay to do so. I guess you could say I’m still in the explicit learning stage in this test called Life. All I can do is my best.