Friday, October 29, 2010

critical thinking

I have begun a little ritual: every Friday morning, after I wake and run up the mountain and clean the house and water the garden and generally pull myself together, I hie myself off to the little tea shop a few blocks away and order a pot of their incredible rose-petal tea. Then I SIT STILL for as many hours as I can milk out of that teapot. My personal best is 2 1/2, so far. I bring my psych texts and read; I make flash cards; I watch the movie biz people lunching biz-ily.
That's really it, for me. The rest of the week is spent in a frantic whirlwind: home from class at 11 pm, off to work at 6:30 am, homework and children and cleaning and studying and boiling spaghetti and picking plastic dinosaurs out of tubs of hummus and shards of glass out of the bathwater (don't ask). So those few hours in the tea shop are more than a rest. They are an eddy in the ceaseless flow of the week, the moments when I remember who I am. That sounds pretentious, but I mean it. I am so busy doing things lately, things that must be done again almost immediately---sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, socializing the offspring, that sort of thing---that I entirely forget, for hours at a time, that I even exist.

It's funny what happens when I sit still. I remember that I do exist, and all of a sudden my brain does this funny spastic thing where it tries to remind me of all the things I am, all at once: you love the mountains you speak german you want to live in a cabin by the river and make your own snowshoes out of willow branches you understand soil salinization you write songs you have friends in the Pyrenees you believe in community and permaculture and biking you like tea you gather nettles in the springtime on and on and on until it runs out of breath. Or whatever brains do. I like it, actually. My brain emphasizes the positive, for the most part, and it's nice to have something going on in there besides AAAAAAAAGGGHHHH I'm late! or Ohhhh NO he just threw that thing in that thing after stepping in that thing!! which are, these days, pretty much the default settings.

But sometimes it makes me sad too. Wistful. For most of a half an hour I sat over my teacup this morning contemplating how very much I would love to live in a cabin somewhere. Just that. To have a kitchen looking out at trees. A wilderness to wander in. A woodstove to cook over, pheasants to track, neighbors few and far between but all with that wild look in their eyes, people who know how to skin a deer and rig up a water pump and sew together a wound if they have to.

All this studying of psychology has taught me to examine my thoughts, and that's what I did this morning, following the 5 steps of critical thinking:

1) what am I being asked to believe? That living in a cabin in the wilderness is the only thing that would make me happy.
2) what evidence is there to support this claim? I've lived in cabins before and I've lived in the wilderness before and it makes me feel roaringly alive.
3) are there alternative ways to interpret this evidence? Ummm, yeah.
4) what additional evidence would you need to rule out these alternative explanations? I would need to prove that I'm not happy anywhere else. I would need to prove that living in a cabin would make me roaringly happy NOW, with children, as the person I am now. A person who owns boots of the non-hiking variety.
5) what's the most reasonable conclusion to draw with the evidence you have?

I looked around the tea shop, and at the sunny autumn day outside. I looked down at my boot-clad feet and felt the warmth of the teacup my hands were wrapped around. I thought about how in a few minutes I'd be running to catch the bus to Xir's school to watch his Halloween Parade. I thought about how, before too long, Anainn would be wrapped around me like a little monkey, nestling his fuzzy head on my shoulder.

The most reasonable conclusion: I'm already happy.

And then: AAAAAAGGGHHHH I'm late!!