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 I am looking for a lost wallet or car keys to “think hard.” OK. 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 had 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.