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Twelve Steps to Not Thinking

I was a lot like you: carefree, happy and blissful. This was before my life took a tragic turn, a turn which I sense you are on the verge of taking. There is no longer any hope for me, unfortunately, but perhaps my story will prevent you from falling into the abyss into which I have been thrown.

It started out innocently enough, I began to think at parties, now and then, just to loosen up. Inevitably, though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than a social thinker. I began to think alone. To relax, I tried to delude myself, even though I knew it wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally, I was thinking all the time.

I began to think in the workplace. I knew that thinking and working didn’t mix, but I couldn’t stop myself. I began to avoid my friends and co-workers at lunch time so I could read Kafka and Thoreau. I would return to the office dizzied, confused and barely able to function, asking, “What IS it exactly we’re doing here?”

Things weren’t going great at home, either. One evening I had impulsively turned off the TV, and asked my wife, “What is the meaning of life?” She spent the night at her mother’s.

I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day, the boss called me in and said, “Bob, I like you and it hurts me to say this, but all this thinking you’ve been doing has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking on the job, I’m afraid I’m going to have to let you go.” That gave me a lot to think about!

I came home early after my conversation with the boss.

“Honey,” I confessed, “I’ve been thinking.”

“I know you’ve been thinking,” she said, “and I want a divorce.”

“But honey, surely it’s not that serious!”

“It is that serious,” she sobbed, her lower lip quivering. “You think as much as a college professor, and college professors don’t make any money. So if you keep thinking, we’ll soon be in the poorhouse.”

“That’s a faulty syllogism!” I said impatiently, and she burst into tears.

I’d had enough. “I’m going to the library,” I snarled, and stomped out the door. I headed for the library in the mood for some Nitzche. I tuned the car stereo to PBS. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors.

They didn’t open. The library was closed! To this day, I believe a higher power was watching over me that evening. As I sank to the ground, clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Descartes, a poster caught my eye.

“Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?” it asked. You probably recognize that question. It’s used extensively in the Thinkers Anonymous advertising campaigns. It came as a revelation to me, and is largely the reason I am what I am today....a recovering thinker.

I never miss a TA meeting. At each session we watch a non-educational video: last week it was “Porky’s.” Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting. I still have my job, thanks to a kind and supportive boss, and things are a lot better now in our mindless home. Life just seems...easier, somehow, now that I’ve stopped thinking.
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