Monday, March 03, 2008

"What are you thinking?"

What am I thinking?

Feelings are so hard to capture in words. When someone asks me, “What are you thinking?” it’s not quite what they’re asking, or at least, I can’t quite answer that question in isolation. I have to answer it not only by talking about my specific thoughts but also what impact they are having. And to do that I have to track back to the source for my thoughts and often to how I’m feeling as, something that is much harder than putting just my thoughts into words.

Feelings capture an environment we find ourselves in. It might be a string of thoughts that gather momentum to become a feeling. Sometimes the thoughts themselves are driven first by feelings, or sometimes the thoughts come first and evoke the feelings. Sometimes it an experience that produces thoughts or feelings. Being able to capture that is like swatting at a swarm of gnats. You might nail a few thoughts, but a hundred others just blow away with the gust of wind.

Feelings might reflect the mood we are in. But sometimes we can’t simply identify why we’re in that mood. Is it something that happened today? If it were only generally that simple. Maybe I’m getting sick, or maybe I didn’t eat anything substantial today. Maybe I didn’t sleep well last night. Maybe I’m under long-term pressure that I’ve calibrated to and don’t even notice anymore.

When someone asks me, “What are you thinking?” it’s just not that easy. Even if I could clearly analyze the biological and psychological and mental components of my mood, and how it’s impacting my thoughts, I’m not sure I would have the words to articulate all that. Even if I had the words, very few of those who ask could listen long enough to really get a feel for where I’m coming from, to get inside all these things and capture “what I’m thinking.”

Why, what were you thinking?

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