I was thinking about thinking the other day. I didn’t come up with anything profound, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Mary Ellen often says to me after a slip up on my part, “What were you thinking?” Admittedly, I probably wasn’t thinking at all, so I resent the sarcasm. My wife will also direct me, especially if am looking for a lost wallet or car keys to “think hard.” Okay. I will try, but at my age I don’t want to hurt myself.
I must overthink things because when I wrote my book Mornings with Barney, Heidi, my proofreader, did a word search through my final manuscript and found the phrase “I think” about 60 times in 220 pages. “I think Barney knew he was on television” “I … think I had the most fun job in TV” … What was I thinking? “It’s a good thing you have a proofreader,” you might say to me. Ya think?
Yes, I think a lot of people, especially writers, rely on the word “think” because we lack self-assurance, and you just read a very good example of that in this sentence. Meteorologists never say, “I think it is going to rain.” Maybe they should. A little humility goes a long way. My barber never ever says, “I think this time I’ll give you a good haircut.” Come to think of it, I wish he would say that.
Over the years my wife has made the mistake of asking my advice. “Dick, do you think we need to buy a new dishwasher?” “Let me think about it,” is my standard response. This is a bunch of hooey, of course. I’m not going to think about that. What I am really going to do is totally forget about the question until Mary Ellen asks me again and then I’ll tell her that after careful reflection I am going to leave it up to her. Occasionally, I do say, “I’ll sleep on it,” which never happens because I hardly ever sleep on anything except a full stomach.
Consider this: “If you think this column wasn’t any good, you have another thing coming.” Thing? Don’t you have another “think” coming? Who invented that stupid phrase, anyway? Some government think tank, I’m sure.
I think I have written just about enough on this topic. Actually, I am quite sure of it.