THOUGHTLESS & THOUGHTFUL
An Incogitant Thinker
JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group
7 January 2021
Once upon a time, there was a man named Bartholomew Brown. He was an avid thinker. We’ll define thinker as one who regularly used his mind to consider or reason about things — mainly things that caused him grief, agony, or discomfort of some sort. By thinking and thinking, he’d be able to consider why things happened and come up with a reason that made him blameless.
For instance, one day he was supposed to go to work at 8:00 p.m. Approximately two hours before he was to show up, he went out to his favorite restaurant to eat supper. As luck would have it, he ran into an old pal, Jameson Johnson. Jameson sat down and they chatted a bit, as old pals do. When the waitress arrived with Bartholomew’s dinner, Jameson ordered a round of frosty ales. Bartholomew laughed, guzzled the beer, ordered another, and stepped outside to call out of work. He told his employer he was feeling a little under the weather and needed to call out for his upcoming shift. He spent the night out with Jameson, joyously imbibing until the early morning, as they frequently would.
When Bartholomew woke up in the morning, he was suffering from a headache, a stomachache, and a terrible bout of guilt. He knew someone had to cover for his missed shift. And he imagined that person wasn’t too pleased. So, Bartholomew got to thinking.
He told himself it was rare for him to call out. His company provided sick days. And he was feeling rather lonely the past few weeks. The social interaction with Jameson cheered him up. While he may not have technically been under the weather, he felt better about the whole thing, knowing it was mentally healthy for him to joyfully socialize. Then he thought some more.
Maybe the headache and the stomach soreness weren’t related to his imbibing. Perhaps he was coming down with something. He may have saved his coworkers by not coming in. Imagine if they had caught this stomach bug. Calling out was the right thing to do.
After he had his fill of thinking, he drank some water and fell asleep for a few more hours. Bartholomew had another shift coming up at 8:00 p.m. that night. He wanted to be sure he was feeling better in time to clock in. After all, if he showed up that night, he’d feel much less guilty about the last night’s indiscretions, however justified he’d thought himself to be.
We can be simultaneously thoughtful and thoughtless. As James Allen, author of the 1902 self-help book As a Man Thinketh says, “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”
Be careful what you think. Make mistakes but learn why you made them. And always be critical of yourself.
It’s far easier to reflect when we stop deflecting.