I am not good at baring my soul to strangers and making public confessions but it is time for me to level with you about a problem I have been hiding for a long time. This is very difficult for me but confession is necessary before I can ever hope to deal with this horrible problem that is affecting my job, my ministry and my relationships with my wife and family.
I knew that my personal weakness was soon to be discovered when people started noticing that I was laughing (that's what happens whenever people really start thinking; they begin to laff at the lunacy and idiocy of non-thinkers). They began to wonder what I had been thinking. It wasn’t really about the things I did but what people presumed to be some dark, latent, irreverent thinking that motivated my actions.
It started out innocently enough. I began to think in public now and then just to loosen up a little bit. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.
I began to think alone -- "to relax," I told myself -- but I knew it wasn't true. Thinking became more and more of an obsession to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.
I began to think on the job. I know, thinking and employment don't mix, but I couldn't control myself. My board chairman called a special meeting and said, “We have noticed that you have been laughing a lot and we suspect it’s because you have been thinking. If you don’t stop thinking, we will have to terminate you.
Lots of people enjoy some occasional social thinking but I have noticed that most people avoid those who begin to think too much. I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here?"
Things weren't going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother's.
I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day my pastor called me in. He said, "Ralph, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. Lots of people have seen you laugh and they are sure that it is caused by your thinking. If you don't stop your thinking immediately, we will have no choice but to remove you from ministry and we may have to remove your name from our church membership roll." This gave me even more to think about.
I came home early after my conversation with my pastor. "Kathy, I have a confession to make, I've been thinking..."
"I know you've been thinking," she interupted, "I’ve known it for a long time. I could tell when you started laughing. I want a divorce!"
"But Kathy, surely it's not that serious" I said.
"It is serious," she said with teary eyes and a quivering lower lip. “Nobody likes us any more. Our friends won’t even talk to me because they have all seen you laughing and they wonder what you have been thinking. You think almost as much as college professors, and college professors don't make any money and the only friend they have are a few pinhead thinkers who can't relate to real people. So if you keep on thinking we won't have any money or friends!"
I laughed, "That's a faulty syllogism," I said in my sarcastic witty way. Then she began to cry. “See,” she said, “college professors don’t make any sense either.
I'd had enough. "I'm going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door. I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche, with a PBS station on the radio. 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 that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night. As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker's Anonymous poster.
Which is why I am what I am today; a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting 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. Lately I have noticed that I am really starting to enjoy watching the Simpsons on T.V. but I still catch myself laughing sometimes.
I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. And my pastor is holding me accountable to ensure that I don’t slip up and succumb to the temptation to indulge in an occasional thought. And he has assigned counselors to watch out and make sure I don’t laugh anymore. I know I will never be completely free from this awful thing that plagues my life. That is why I am asking you, my friends to help me and pray for me. I need your encouragement. Life just seems a lot easier, somehow, now that I have admitted my problem and stopped thinking.